Oakmont East Recreation Center is a sound investment
By Tom Kendrick, Oakmont Village Association board member
A renovated Oakmont East Rec Center (ERC) will soon reopen to accommodate the hundreds of meetings, events and exercise activities held there every year. Did Oakmonters get value in this $2.78-million project? I think so, and in more ways than just expanded functionality, durability and improved appearance. The Oakmont Building Construction Committee (BCC) has worked tirelessly to ensure the quality of the work, contributing expertise and thousands of hours of effort – all voluntarily – that further add to the overall value. We can expect the center will serve us well for decades to come.
The ERC is a key asset, and the renovation has been managed to create the highest value at the lowest cost – a significant investment that accrues to every Oakmont homeowner.
Costs for this long-overdue project remain completely consistent with the current market. The ultimate expense will be based on the work performed, and better foreknowledge of these costs, while desirable, would not materially change this. The value of the facility will more than justify the overall investment, in improved ADA access, alignment with current codes, implementation of durable and modern AV and electrical systems and in addressing current and emerging OVA membership needs.
Like many of our structures, the ERC was an aging facility (35 years) in need of predictable, scheduled repairs and maintenance. In the 2017 reserve study alone, accumulated ERC assets that were due or overdue for replacement were estimated at more than $1 million, and the 2018 study, which updated the prior estimate with actual replacement costs, shows about $2.25 million associated with it.
When the 2017 board deemed the ERC a high priority, local construction professionals provided an early estimate of $1.5 million to rebuild the derelict deck, replace the aging pool equipment, implement ADA changes and comply with current building code requirements. This was a rough estimate based on only part of the work ultimately included. As important, the estimate was prior to the fires that have resulted in extensive local disruption and cost escalation. Having incomplete construction information, the 2017 OVA board took no action on the project.
Closer scrutiny of the ERC needs pointed to the prudence – and actual necessity – of expanding the scope to yield a building that not only meets all codes and requirements, but also provides the modern functionality needed by the people who use it. Therefore, an April 2018 plan developed by the BCC addressed critical safety issues (sprinkler systems) and full compliance with ADA interior and exterior requirements, as well as pool equipment upgrades and additional onsite storage. Extensive community input also informed the plan and called for integrating the corner conference room in to the main hall, enlarging usable deck space, modernizing audio/video systems, installing new flooring and lights and improving overall acoustics. Based on the BCC’s plan, the board approved $1.734 million for all the work known to require city permits. The contract excluded much that was still being finalized as well as a number of items that the BCC planned to manage itself. $1.734 million was understood to be, and was clearly described at the time, as only part of the overall project costs, which were anticipated at somewhat more than $2 million.
In June, the BCC identified an additional $528,000 to cover the completed specifications, including $242,000 in contract change orders for permit fees and added interior work at ERC. The remaining $266,000 added in June was for separate direct contracts managed by OVA, covering the audio visual system, window coverings, acoustic panels, and public art that is required by the city. The finalized ERC project budget was $2.262 million.
As work proceeded, we discovered unanticipated difficulties, including faulty, non-code electrical work and soil quality issues under the pool and spa decking. Contingency funds handled some problems, but full resolution resulted in $109,000 additional cost. The City’s permit approval process – hard hit by the fires – took months longer than hoped, delaying the start of work and resulting in increased costs ($366,000) in materials and labor. Because the initial contingency was insufficient, the OVA Board also incorporated a $102,000 contingency allowance.
Even after implementing over $61,000 in cost-saving modifications, the net impact of all of these changes summed to $516,000. In November the board approved an increased ERC Budget of $2.78 million, an increase of about 23 percent over the June budget. When completed, the ERC project will add a minimum of 35 years of useful life to the facility, so this investment is well justified. Over this period, the renovation represents about $17 per year for each OVA member.
In June – well before the emergence of any ERC problems – the board approved a five-phase formal oversight process to better understand and more accurately budget major projects.
• Identify and assess opportunity.
• Generate alternatives and select the preferred alternative.
• Develop detailed specifications for the selection.
• Execute the selection consistent with the specifications.
• Close the project and do a “project lookback.”
The OVA board plans to do a public “Phase 5” retrospective analysis on the ERC project to help us better anticipate costs and requirements for major future projects.
The process will ensure better understanding of major OVA projects by thoroughly analyzing detailed plans and specifications before starting work. It will provide better community visibility, coherent scheduling and financial planning. Because the process calls for early contributions by professionals, it may or may not result in lower overall project costs. Regardless, it will provide a foundation for more accurate budget estimates, as well as explicit recognition of unknowns and risks using range estimates in the early phases and appropriate contingency allowances during execution.