UT hosts first educational forum on state construction reform

February 22, 2012 | News, UToday
By Jon Strunk

The University of Toledo’s Scott Park Campus for Energy and Innovation was the site of the state’s first educational forum on construction reform as hundreds of attorneys, architects, engineers and government organization representatives gathered to learn about a process designed to save time and money.

Craig Weise, state construction reform program director, left, and Chuck Lehnert, UT vice president of administration, talked on the way back to the forum on Ohio construction reform on the Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation. Weise, a former architect for the state of Ohio, led the first educational forum on the new construction laws designed to save public organizations time and money during building.

The new rules are timely as just last week a higher education capital budget proposal was received favorably by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. UT President Lloyd Jacobs was one of the seven people on the proposal’s leadership committee.

Chuck Lehnert, UT vice president of administration, pointed out that UT already was home to one of the two construction reform pilot projects and said the University was pleased to host the forum.

“The new construction rules create a better process, and the efficiencies that result will save UT, government organizations and the taxpayers money and reduce construction delays,” Lehnert said.

Under the new law, UT now is able to award a bid to a single prime contractor who then coordinates the various subcontractors for plumbing, electrical work, steel work, etc. In the past, UT had to have direct contracts with each specialty, but now it can rely on the single prime contactor to handle that coordination.

“We can hold one contractor responsible for costs and timelines, and that contractor can exercise leadership over the various subcontractors,” Lehnert said.

The new laws also permit architects and contractors to work together to design a project, rather than having a contractor bid on a project he or she knows in advance will have to be revised structurally, often at greater cost.

The pilot project to renovate space in Wolfe Hall and Bowman-Oddy Laboratories is being conducted under the “construction manager at risk” model, where UT establishes a set fee and timeline and it’s up to the construction manager to meet that budget and timeline or risk financial penalties.

“All of these new rules are fairly common in the private sector, and by moving them into the public sector, we’ll save money, we’ll save time, and more people will benefit from capital improvements faster,” Lehnert said.

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