HARVARD — The Town Hall Building Committee met Tuesday night for the third time since selectmen recently appointed the five-member group, all of whom were present.

There was a considerable gathering of professional savvy and technical know-how around the table.

Meet the Committee

THBC members are Town Administrator Tim Bragan; Chris Cutler, a professional builder; Eric Broadbent, who also serves on the Energy Advisory Committee and whose focus on the committee is to seek out and encourage environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient features; Doug Coots, an architect and member of the Historic Commission, and Chairman Peter Jackson, an engineer and experienced project manager. As a volunteer, Jackson chaired the Library Building Committee that oversaw what was arguably the town’s most ambitious building project to date and at over $7 million, certainly the most costly.

After dispatching routine business, they launched into a discussion about the draft proposal their construction manager of choice — Design Techniques, Inc., or D.T.I. — submitted for the next phase of the multi-million-dollar, Town Meeting-approved addition and renovation project.

The proposal includes cost estimates for construction management and Owners Project Manager (OPM) services, with rates based on a percentage of total project cost.

That much is standard, Coots said, but the number of hours the site representative will be on the job are “surprisingly slim,” and that concerns him.

For a total of $96,689 averaged out over a year, the SR will be on the job only half time versus a 40-hour workweek.

After a good deal of Socratic mulling and some back and forth that included on-point questions and general comments from Bragan, the group decided that DTI’s projected time on the clock for those services was sufficient.

The gist of it was that as an upgraded version of an older job title — clerk of the works — the SR job description apparently differs notably, with on-site hours geared to times when “significant work is going on.”

For example: A clerk of the works might show up every day and sit around in the construction trailer, just to be there, say when the crew is painting versus installing an HVAC system or tackling some other complex task. But the site representative’s time on the job is meted out more selectively.

Among other things, the SR would not only ensure that materials and equipment are delivered on time and as ordered but could also coordinate as needed and mediate when there’s a problem, in some instances preventing costly delays.

Minimal maybe, but Coots and Jackson opined that the projected hours in DTI’s proposal would likely do, given the relative simplicity of the Town Hall project, compared, for example, to the library rebuild and addition.

Jackson, who was integrally involved in the library project, referred to it several times as a benchmark. DTI was the construction manager on that project, too, which is why he and Coots, in particular, feel the firm is the right fit this time. According to the firm’s website, DTI does it all and does it right, with an impressive list of past projects on its resume.

Moving Along

Coots said that most building projects go through phases, starting with a feasibility study, segueing to schematic design and wrapping with construction. In those terms, “this project is moving fairly fast,” he said, noting that the architects – LLB – are already on board.

But as Jackson later pointed out, they’ll need to enter into a new contract with the firm to retain its services through the next phase of the project. Negotiating that document will be one of the tasks DTI as construction managers will help with, he said.

For now, the committee’s challenge is to present a cogent argument for DTI and its cost projections to the selectmen at their August 7 meeting.

At a previous meeting, Selectman Ron Ricci said he was interested in negotiable rates, while Jackson argued that “realistic” figures were not necessarily the lowest ones.

Chances are the THBC will make a similar case at the upcoming BOS meeting in two weeks. Tuesday night, the committee voted to approve DTI’s proposal.