The new Athens County Emergency Medical Services building is currently being constructed at 21 Kenny Drive in Athens, but it appears there are some issues with some of the completed work.

The new building was called for by officials who cited a need for more space, additionally noting maintenance issues with the building and a lack of certain facilities.

The new site’s property was donated to the city of Athens by TS Tech, which has a nearby facility. The city signed an agreement with the commissioners in October 2019 for the station to be built on the land, and the construction contract was awarded to Hoon Inc., of Athens. The total contract cost was $2.33 million.

At the Tuesday, Oct. 6 Athens County Commissioner meeting, Don Dispenza, the project architect, told the board that a small change in the building’s construction has resulted in issues with the station’s air barrier. The building is to be a net zero energy consumer, and to aid with that, a six-inch plastic air and vapor barrier has to be installed on certain parts of the building, Dispenza explained.

It appears that the changes to the architecture have not affected the building’s blower door test, which measures the airtightness of a structure, as results came back below the limit. Dispenza said the work Hoon did was “outstanding” in terms of quality, but due to the area it was built in, cost the construction company an extra $30,000. Exact numbers are still being nailed down.

Dispenza noted that he had met with the construction team twice to ensure the air and vapor barrier was installed correctly, and that his drawings specifically note the needed steps to install the barrier correctly.

“I think we made it clear, and gave them a lot of opportunities to ask questions,” he said.

Commissioner Charlie Adkins questioned who should be on the hook for the extra $30,000, noting that it appears Dispenza did his due diligence and should not be at fault.

“There’s no question listening to Don (Dispenza) that we have a good building that’s done right, but I’m struggling with — they bid on a job, it was clear in the architects work, and they decided not to go that route, and now the county is asked to pay $30,000-some additional,” he said. “Is $30,000 what they’re saying it cost them to do it?”

Change orders are commonplace in large construction projects, and details and more information comes clear in the field.

“There’s no loss of value to us,” Dispenza explained. “At the end of the day, the drawings are on your side...we told them what to do.”

Dispenza noted that the majority of the cost to Hoon was in hours worked, utilizing some extra money worked into the contract already to face the costs.

“I’m willing to split the difference,” Commissioner President Lenny Eliason said, and made a motion to approve the change order for up to $15,000.

The motion passed unanimously.


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