May 15, 2021

Bid withdrawn for county admin building

Error in bid amount causes county to revisit the next lowest offer

The general contractor who was chosen to construct Jasper County’s new administration building mistakenly submitted the wrong bid and asked the board of supervisors on April 13 to formally retract it, resulting in the next lowest bidder to be approved for the estimated $3.77 million project.

Shortly after the board approved the low bid from Edge Commercial last week, the contractor informed the county’s architectural firm, BBS Architects Engineers, they had mis-transposed two of the numbers in their offer.

In an April 8 letter addressed to BBS and carbon-copied to Jasper County, Edge Commercial Project Manager Branson Ropp said he accidentally switched two numbers when typing his base bid number in a message to the bid runner. Ropp had meant to bid $3,412,500 instead of the $3,142,500 offer that was opened.

“We would ask that (Jasper) County throw our bid out due to this unfortunate mistake,” Ropp said.

Compared to the other six bids, Edge Commercial’s corrected offer — about a 10 percent difference from the original estimate — would still be considered the lowest base bid. Matt Cole, an architect and partner of BBS, said continuing on with Edge Commercial as the county’s contractor “is not a wise choice.”

“They’re going into the project at a deficit at that point, essentially not making any money on the project … We had multiple bids last week. Many of them under the budget. So that would be my recommendation is that you allow the withdrawal of their bid and look at the second low bidder,” Cole said.

Garling Construction, of Bell Plaine, had the second lowest bid. This general contractor provided the supervisors with a base bid of $3,435,000; a unit price of $12 per square foot; and a $35,000 bid for the alternate item for sidewalk work. The contractor estimated it could begin July 1, end by April 2, 2022.

Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott noted Garling Construction had the quickest construction time of all the bidders; whereas most bids estimated a one-year construction period, Garling expected the project to be completed in about nine months or so. Parrott asked what Cole’s thoughts were on that.

“I did give them a notice that we may be needing to talk to them if Edge withdrew their bid … They did note that schedule date was really driven by when they think they can get steel for the new addition,” Cole said. “So they’re open to discussion about how that can get started and get phased a little earlier.”

Originally, Edge Commercial said it could begin construction by May 1 and be completed by Jan. 31, 2022. Cole said don’t plan on anything less than 12 months for this size of project, but that estimate is ultimately based on the contractor; nine months, added, doesn’t seem out of line.

“Particularly if they can get started on some demolition things earlier,” Cole said.

BBS has worked with Garling Construction in the past and Cole said the architectural firm finished a similarly sized project with the contractor a little more than a year ago. Although that structure did not have an addition built onto it, Cole said Garling Construction “did a very fine job” with the interior renovation.

“I would not have concerns with that recommendation,” Cole said.

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 to accept Edge’s withdrawal and award the project to the next lowest bidder, Garling.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.