I have read several letters regarding work to be done on the Buffalo schools. Most of them refer to getting the best job at the lowest price. As a construction inspector, I know the city won't get the best job for the lowest price. What often happens is the owner settles for less than wanted and pays more than intended. The solution is to eliminate the highest and lowest bids and work with the mid-ranged ones.
For anyone unfamiliar with the construction industry, the builders of yesterday are gone. Project management companies, which do little more than sign contracts, have replaced general contractors who employed their own tradesmen. There are some who have every intention of doing a good job. But there are many others whose sole intention is to make as much money as possible for doing as little as they can.
The "job plan" has been replaced by the "job scheme." There are dozens of construction companies looking to underbid everyone else, then lie and cheat their way through. They do not have wheelbarrows and shovels, but rather briefcases and lawyers. The cost of the job climbs to where it is equal to the higher bids, and the project looks nothing like it should.
Many say not having a project labor agreement will make it fair to all bidders. To be fair to all bidders, make sure that all contractors and subcontractors pay the proper wages. Also make sure that all subcontractors are identified and approved. The low-bid policy is more restrictive than a PLA. Good contractors know they cannot do a job at these prices, and stay away from the work.
Some of the buildings to be renovated are of historical significance, such as those on the grounds of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. It would be unthinkable to destroy them. Those who believe that cheaper is better must be prepared to lower their standards and their expectations.
MICHAEL A. PAGANO