Renovations At Fairfield Ludlowe Will Cost More Than Expected

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Budget estimates for the Fairfield Ludlowe High School renovation have spiked from $11.6 million to about $14.2 million, the high school’s building committee reported to the town’s Board of Selectmen on Wednesday.

Fairfield Ludlowe High School will see up to $14.2 million in expansion and repairs, expected to begin this December.
Fairfield Ludlowe High School will see up to $14.2 million in expansion and repairs, expected to begin this December. Photo Credit: Salvatore Trifilio

The three-phase renovation project will add two science labs, four all-purpose classrooms, expand the overall size of the cafeteria and renovate both the teacher and senior lounges in the over-capacity school.

Renovation plans also include replacing PCB-contaminated windows and upgrading a more than 20-year-old roof. Part of the roof was blown open in a wind storm last year, causing school closures.

A contributing factor to the budget increase is the “new process” the building committee and town boards are experimenting with, to expedite the construction process, according to First Selectman Michael Tetreau.

Members of the building committee said the original budget of $11.6 million was based on “conceptual estimates,” which lacked the data used in the more accurate, and more current, $14.2 million figure. These conceptual estimates were based on “square-footage estimates alone,” committee members said at the meeting.

“A major reason for the increase, was that we saw an increase in soft costs,” Ludlowe High School Building Committee Member Twig Holland said. Soft costs refer to expenses not associated with construction materials and labor such as a construction manager's fee, which is expected to be around $212,000 for this project.

Renovation plans have been broken down into three phases. Phase one will see roof maintenance completed, phase two will expand the cafeteria and add the new classrooms and phase three is when the PCB-contaminated windows will be replaced.

Bids for the first phase of the renovation were received at the end of the summer. Conceptual costs for the roof renovation came in at about $2.2 million, but bids came back at $2.8 million.

Building Committee Member Sal Morabito said high bids were associated with roofing price spikes in the summer. The committee has sent out a second round of bids and expect the price to drop.

The largest change in cost is associated with phase two, and the high school’s expansion. Conceptual budget costs came in at $3.8 million, but the budget is now believed to be about $5.43 million, about a 50 percent increase Tetreau pointed out.

“The number was much high than this, and we did a lot of value engineering to get it down to [$5.4 million],” Building Committee Chair Marc Donald said. He said before the value engineering, the cost of phase two was closer to $6.1 million.

Building committee members are still hoping to break ground for phase two in December, which would see the expansion completed by the open of the 2015-16 school year. However, the new budget numbers still require approval from the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Committee.

Despite the rise in prices, board members still see the project as important.

“In order to construct this project, we had funded in the conceptual phase we will have to pay the extra money,” said Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey. “Even with the value engineering that has already been done.”

Fairfield’s Board of Selectmen did not vote on any new budget numbers at the meeting.

The next discussion regarding Ludlowe High School’s building committee will be at the Nov. 5 Board of Selectmen meeting.

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