UI projects cost less

BY TYLER LYON | MAY 15, 2009 7:30 AM

The university will save roughly $200,000 on the re-roofing of Burge Hall this summer, University Housing Director Von Stange said.

The savings are a result of local contractors’ lower bids during the economic recession.

“Based on the economy, we have more vendors look at these construction opportunities,” Stange said. “It’s been good for us.”

Jeffrey Aaberg, University Housing’s head of facilities and operations, agreed.

“Projects this year have been typically lower than what we’ve expected,” he said.

While the UI is putting off several major projects across campus because of budget cuts, none of the residence-hall projects are being pushed back.

This summer’s plans include, in addition to replacing Burge’s roof, renovating restrooms and installing key-card access at Hillcrest and Slater.

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Stange said the original cost estimate for the Burge project was approximately $1.4 million, but after landing good deals with area contractors, new projections show it will cost around $1.2 million.

The university spends roughly $7 million on summer projects each year, Stange said.

The final cost of campus construction projects is not released until they are complete, but the university is expected to save 10 to 20 percent per project this summer.

Jeff Kelsey, a co-owner of Iowa City business S&K Roofing, said his young company has been taking low bids to stay alive.

“We’re barely making out,” he said.

Aaberg said officials have no specific use for the extra money but noted it could be used as an emergency fund if future projects are affected by budget cuts.

“Maybe we’ll be able to do a little extra work next year; if not, hopefully, we’ll be able to stay on the same path,” he said.

Aside from the Burge roof project, the summer won’t bring major changes to the residence halls, Aaberg said.

Stange said the Burge addition — which will add 100 beds and more storage space — didn’t benefit from the current discounts because its contractors were hired three years ago. But the project is also unaffected by budget cuts because it has been paid off over the past three years.

The Burge addition is projected to cost the university $9 million, an increase from the original $8 million estimate made three years ago.

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