Uniontown Creativity Center

Uniontown Community Development Association

Funding Received: 2013
Uniontown, WA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 29, 2014

By Leslee Miller


April 9: We are extremely frustrated our project is not out to bid yet. We had to find a new architect last summer after the two-person firm we had been working with dissolved. Our design steering committee is made up of people very acquainted with design and construction, so we did due diligence in advertising the Requests for Proposals to local architectural firms and reviewing them. We interviewed three firms and did site visits of similar projects. We chose the firm that seemed equipped to work on a project the size of ours and that had a track record of bringing in projects under budget.

Working with this firm has been very difficult all along the way. Since we hired them in August 2013, our stated goal had been to get our project out to bid late winter because the building season is limited in our climate. Our objective was to catch contractors before they had committed to other construction projects for the New Year. Here we are well into April and the construction documents are still not complete. Last week the principal architect asked for another extension on the bid documents, this time stating he had other projects to which he must tend. We feel a lack of respect on his part.

The principal is a good designer, but often he sent student interns to our meetings rather than attend himself. In spite of that, we have—on paper—a great design that we are excited about. It is definitely not extravagant and reflects the indigenous agricultural architectural styles in our region. It also has numerous manageable tasks for our faithful volunteers to do.

Besides the scheduling issue, we were blindsided by the architect’s sudden change in estimated construction costs. His estimate on 12-30-2013 reflected the project cost being within the funds we have available. Then his estimate in March, which we received after he had told us he would have the construction drawings finished, showed that the project had grown an additional $200K! And that dollar amount didn’t even include appliances for our teaching kitchen for which we had always planned separate fundraising. Yes, we agreed to some changes in our meetings with the firm, but were not informed about their impact on the cost. We did not make any major changes in the building’s size or style; in fact, we eliminated some square footage. Our design steering committee has spent a lot of time taking things out of the base bid that we can do later or we can do with more highly skilled volunteers. We are still $100K short and are scrambling to find other funding sources.

I hope on the next blog I can report that competitive bids have been received and that we will be able to manage the pared down building with funds we have available. The site is now cleared and the water and sewer utilities have been extended to service the addition. WE ARE READY!

Recent Wins
Someone from a nearby community has been watching our project and phoned offering a large quantity of sewer pipe. We are pleased that word is out about what we are doing and that he made the donation, which will save on our construction cost. We also had a friend of the Barn allow 5 truckloads of concrete rubble that was removed from the old loafing shed location to be dumped on his farm ground. Not having to pay dump fees on that was HUGE! We thank both of these fellows.

April 28 Update: Our fear was we would not have adequate response by contractors with the project going out to bid late April. However, six construction companies were represented at the pre-bid conference on April 26. The set of specifications that go with the construction drawings are definitely overkill—nearly 500 pages with requirements that are appropriate for multi-million dollar commercial and institutional projects. One contractor was very vocal at the meeting that the specs didn’t fit with our light commercial building. Hopefully several contractors will follow through with bids, which are due May 7.