Garling requests extension on airport hangar construction

Construction of a new hangar at the Marshalltown Municipal Airport is a long way from finished despite a contract with Garling Construction stipulating a substantial completion date of Oct. 31.

The contractor appeared before the city council Monday to request an extension of 13 weeks beyond the original completion date. The new target end date would be Jan. 28, 2022. Garling is also requesting compensation in the amount of more than $24,000 for additional time on site for the project manager, superintendent and other expenses related to the extension.

According to the contract between the city and Garling, the project not being completed by Oct. 31 would allow the city to charge Garling by the day for being late. With the extension, it’s possible the city could waive those penalties for the added 13 weeks.

Garling penned a letter to Clapsaddle, Garber and Associates, which serves the city as a contract administrator and resident project representative, stating several reasons for the delay of the project’s completion. The biggest struggle has been acquiring materials necessary to complete the project due to supply issues and transportation shortage.

“We, as the general contractor, are not responsible for: pandemics, unusual delays and shortages, raw material shortages, transportation issues, or other circumstances out of our control,” the letter, signed by Doug Mertens and Troy Pins of Garling Construction, reads. “We are doing our best to minimize the time delay and additional cost that these delays are causing.”

City staff and CGA did not believe that monetary compensation was appropriate in this instance.

“Engineering, both myself and Jay Koch, don’t feel comfortable recommending to this city council a time extension and monetary compensation for that time extension,” said Justin Nickel, Public Works Director.

Pins and Mertens presented their case to the council, noting that it is not their intention to leave the project unfinished.

“The parts we need to complete this project simply aren’t available or weren’t available in the time frame we needed,” Pins said. “The big one was the pre-engineered metal building. These circumstances are beyond our control.”

Pins noted some materials which usually take eight to 12 weeks to arrive on site have been quoted for as long as a 48-week delivery time.

“I can support a time delay, but ultimately, it comes down to who shoulders the risk of the unknown,” Nickel said. “That’s where engineering and Clapsaddle are not in agreement with Garling. In reviewing the contract, I believe Garling could ask for extra compensation for their site trailer and amenities — which is a couple thousand dollars. It is not $28,000. We are not recommending any more compensation for Garling for the time extension right now.”

Councilor Gary Thompson noted that Garling was likely able to send its workers elsewhere when it was unable to work on the airport project.

“For the public, was there a performance penalty for you not finishing this by the end of October?” Thompson asked. “In the year of COVID, where materials aren’t available, would it be fair to say we waive that (penalties), and you waive your $27,000, and we call it even?”

Pins said he didn’t believe that was fair and that there isn’t any debate over whether a time extension is necessary. Thompson clarified that he wasn’t arguing against a time extension.

“I honestly believe your staff. Your people have been able to mitigate those differences by working on projects where materials were available,” Thompson said.

Pins said this was not the case.

“So we bill you the $22,000, you bill us the $27,000, we’re out $5,000, and we get our building built by January?” Thompson asked. “Then what happens in January when the project still isn’t done?”

Pins said they are forecasting the project will be done by the end of January with many of the materials already arrived or scheduled to arrive before the new completion date.

Staff was directed to return to the next council meeting on Nov. 8 with resolutions for an extension on the project and potential compensation as separate items.

Thompson asked Nickel if it is possible Garling could walk off the project if it does not receive compensation for the extra time. Nickel said that according to the contract, there is a performance bond which wouldn’t allow them to do so. Pins assured the council that Garling will see the project finished.

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Contact Joe Fisher at news@timesrepublican.com