LOWELL -- The Lowell Housing Authority board recently voted to award a combined $1.8 million to private contractors as a result of a public-bidding process for three construction projects.
The contracts will pay for kitchen and bath renovations at two different developments and roof work at a third.
The LHA will fund the work with fiscal 2012 capital funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to Chief Financial Officer Adam Garvey.
The LHA turned to a public-bidding process after HUD last year banned the LHA from using $2.2 million in unobligated 2012 capital funds on "force account" projects. Force account is when housing authorities use their own employees and no-bid union labor to perform work.
The LHA board voted at a special meeting last month to award the three contracts.
Charters Brothers Construction of Danville, N.H., was awarded $862,900 contract for kitchen and bathroom modernization work in 16 units at the George Flanagan Development.
The cost of the contract was within 1 percent of the independent cost estimate for the work, and Charters Brothers was the lowest of two bidders. The other bidder was Quality Contracting of Worcester.
Stallion Builders of Nashua, N.H., was awarded a $709,480 contract to provide kitchen and bathroom renovations in 24 units at the Francis Gatehouse development. Stallion Builders was the lowest of four bidders for the work and its proposal came more than $300,000 below the LHA's independent cost estimate for the work.
The other bidders were L&H Construction of Medford, Quality Contracting and Stutman Contracting of Oxford.
LHA Commissioner Tim Green asked if the contractors would pull permits while conducting the work, and LHA Executive Director Gary Wallace responded that they would pull all applicable permits.
Meadows Construction Company of Newburyport will be paid $236,000 to complete roof repairs at North Common Village. The company was the sole bidder for the job and their bid came in about $20,000 less than the independent cost estimate for the work.
"I felt the board was thoughtful and deliberate in their decision to move these projects forward," Wallace said in a statement. "The obvious benefits to the residents will be completely modernized kitchens and baths that will enhance their homes aesthetics, improve energy efficiency and bring a sense of pride."
"The (North Common) roof will address some necessary repairs due to aging and weather related damages," Wallace added.
The work is expected to get under way in the coming weeks.
Garvey, the LHA's chief financial officer, told The Sun that with the new contract awards and a previous obligation of $618,717 in funds, the LHA has met the requirement that all its fiscal 2012 capital funds be obligated.
HUD's force-account ban was prompted by findings from auditors working for HUD's Office of the Inspector General that the LHA was not ensuring the force-account work was cost effective. HUD told the LHA the unobligated funds had to be obligated by early this month.
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