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More contractors qualify to bid on cool schools projects

  • BRUCE ASATO / SEPT. 2015

    Students, parents and supporters with the group Cool Our Keiki, including Malia Wing, 8, nearest, Marcella Viernez, 7, and Malia’s sister, Hana Wing, 9, held signs as they stood on the sidewalk fronting the Queen Liliuokalani Building, which houses the Department of Education, to garner support from passing motorists in their effort to cool Hawaii’s classrooms.

The number of contracting firms that have been preapproved to bid on projects for the state’s “cool schools” initiative has doubled from 18 to 36 companies, the Department of Education said today.

The bigger pool is expected to help attract more competitive bids after the DOE last month announced that initial proposals had come in over budget for projects at six schools. The high bids — in one case nearly 10 times the per-classroom estimate the department had been using — prompted the state to halt the awarding of bids.

The DOE today released the names of the 36 companies and said it is preparing to put the projects back out to bid.

“We appreciate the attention and effort by our local contractors who have come forward to work on our sustainable cooling projects,” Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent for school facilities and support services, said in a statement. “Cooling classrooms is much more than just installing an AC unit, it requires professional contractors who can complete a job the right way. This includes ensuring electrical capabilities, properly sealing rooms, and more.”

Using early industry estimates, the department had budgeted $40,000 as an “estimated median per classroom” cost to cover equipment and installation of air conditioners and other heat abatement measures. As recently as May, the DOE said it expected to complete a state initiative to cool 1,000 classrooms this year for roughly $45 million, with most schools receiving solar-powered air conditioners to offset energy use.

But procurement documents show the priciest per-classroom proposal came in at $360,770 to install solar-powered air conditioning in one portable classroom at Ewa Beach Elementary.

The 1,000 classrooms are spread across 33 schools deemed to be the hottest in the state. Consultants for the DOE analyzed those schools to come up with the design plans that contractors are bidding on. The DOE said the projects include a mix of products including photovoltaic (solar-powered) air conditioning, with both PV and electrical power; solar air conditioning with battery power; and standard split-system air conditioning with full electrical power.

In anticipation of state funding for the project, the DOE in March began prequalifying contractors. Of the more than 3,000 contractors that were notified, 18 firms qualified. In May, the DOE reopened the prequalifying process to attract more contractors; 18 more companies qualified.

The department says it will be meeting with the qualified contractors to review project specifications and the timeline for bidding.

The contractors from the first round are:

  • A’s Mechanical
  • Able Electric, Inc.
  • All Maintenance and Repair, LLC
  • Allied Pacific Builders, Inc.
  • Arisumi Brothers, Inc.
  • Banks Pacific Construction, Inc.
  • CC Engineering & Construction, Inc.
  • Contech Engineering, Inc.
  • Economy Plumbing & Sheet Metal, Inc.
  • Greenpath Technologies, Inc.
  • Honolulu Roofing Company, Inc.
  • Island Wide A/C Service, LLC
  • MJ Construction, Inc.
  • Pacific Blue Construction LLC
  • Rambaud Electric, LLC
  • S&M Sakamoto, Inc.
  • Starcom Builders, Inc.
  • Tory’s Roofing & Waterproofing, Inc.

The contractors from the second round are:

  • Arita-Poulson General Contracting, LLC
  • BCP Construction of HI, Inc.
  • Brian’s Contracting, Inc.
  • Central Construction, Inc.
  • Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii, Inc.
  • Elite Pacific Construction, Inc.
  • F&H Construction
  • HBM Acquisitions, LLC dba Hawaiian Building Maintenance
  • HSI Mechanical, Inc.
  • Index Builders, Inc.
  • Isemoto Contracting, Co., Ltd.
  • LTM, Corporation dba Civil-Mechanical Contractor
  • Nan, Inc.
  • Performance Systems, Inc.
  • Ralph S. Inouye Co., Ltd.
  • RevoluSun, LLC
  • Su-Mo Builders, Inc.
  • Shioi Construction, Inc.

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  • Can we ask competent mainland contractors to bid? The old pay to play crowd out here is virtually useless in terms of getting anything done.

    • Allie, certainly the DOE can approve mainland contractors who meet all the State laws and conditions such as a Contractors license and all the insurance and tax requirements. Also, they must meet Hawaii’s Dept of Labor prevailing wages and benefits. And, others.

      • PREAPPROVED contracting firms. Why not let all interested companies bid? Of course the parameters are license contractors and have performed work in Hawaii. PREAPPROVED equates to SELECTED which is questionable.

        • Kiragirl, a number of years ago and with the former superintendent, the DOE was awarded control of a number of functions from different State Departments. The DOE believed that if they controlled all the functions, they can present better educational results to the citizens of Hawaii. The DOE inherited construction services from DAGS and developed its own pre-approval system. It does work, but it is controlled by the DOE.

  • “Consultants for the DOE analyzed those schools to come up with the design plans that contractors are bidding on.” and “department had budgeted $40,000 as an “estimated median per classroom” cost to cover equipment and installation of air conditioners and other heat abatement measures”

    The DOE first needs to recheck the “design plans” and make sure that the $40,000 per classroom estimate is in line with those “design plans”. If it checks out, then go out to bid and see what happens this second time. If bids are way too high again and come in at $100,000 or more per classroom, just put the whole project on hold until a better time, which means a time when contractors start needing the work.

    • They also need to clarify what this “estimated median per classroom” means. MEDIAN means half is above and half below – so if they are saying half the estimated costs per classroom is like $300,000 and the other half is like $35,000, that is also not right and does not give an accurate picture of what the total cost is going to be.

      If that’s what it is, then just do the lower cost classrooms and leave the others for a better time.

        • DOE bean counters do all or nothing. They don’t know enough to repackage the work. They probably had an engineer or consultant to write their specs for them.

  • OUr wasteful Gov’t. some lazy DOE workers putting out a “general bid” and let the contractor do ALL THE WORK as to design and build. the State could save tens of millions if they hired a designer and pieced out the work instead of letting a general contractor make tons of profit hiring subs to do most of the work. Look at the list, roofers are going to be in charge of the whole project- man there is lots of profit to the general when they hire their friends that do electrical, mechanical, carpentry, etc. Every facet of the job will be inflated., There is even a building maintenance company bidding- what nonsense!

    • cardoc, you should bid the project. Have you been in business for 10 years? Do you have a 42 million bonding capacity? How many projects have you completed of the same size and value in the last 3 years?
      These are private contractors. They can hire who ever they want!
      The reason for the “design build” is there’s no change orders. They screw up the bid they eat it……..They should have done the same thing with the rail…….

      • Design build is an excuse for the general contractor to cut corners on the design. We don’t want contractors cutting corners on rail.

        It may work for AC. With good competition on bids, some general might come up with the cheapest design that may work most of the time.

  • I hope that the DOE consultants rework their bid documents (design plans) so that it is simpler and more precise in what each classroom needs.

    However, if they don’t change the bid documents, it would be really interesting to see what the first 18 contractors bid on this second go around. Comparing their bids with what they submitted the first time would reveal which contractors tried to rip off the DOE and us taxpayers.

  • At up to 360K per portable, the political “pay to play” tax must have gone up substantially. That’s what really is driving these outrageous prices from the chosen few contractors.

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