Effingham County commissioners will try to work out an agreement with the builder of the new justice complex to settle more than $100,000 back charges.
Wallace Wiggins, owner of LPS Construction, asked commissioners to meet him halfway in rectifying $142,000 in charges from architects Lott and Barber.
“I do not agree with the fees being charged to me,” he said. “If you look at the items we were charged man hours for, a lot of them were change orders for the owner.”
The 55,000 square foot, three-story building was more than two years behind schedule, but has met with rave reviews since its opening.
“The completion of the courthouse was way past the schedule of all of us,” Wiggins said.
County Administrator Ed Williams said the delays could have caused Lott and Barber’s original contract to run out and led them to charge LPS for their time in meetings with subcontractors and the county.
Wiggins said he had several subcontractors at the beginning of the project who could not perform the tasks or meet the bid quotations. He said he also tried to use as many as local subcontractors as possible, at the urging of local officials.
“We paid for their mistakes, and we didn’t pass it on to anybody,” Wiggins said. “We continued to work, even when we were not getting paid for several months. We stuck it out through some tough times.
“I’m not asking you to change it to the Wallace Wiggins Building, but I’ve got about $2.5 million in that building,” he said. “You got a $13 million building for $9 million.”
He estimated the use of local subcontractors cost his company and his insurance company $1.2 million.
In a letter to Adam Kobek, LPS questioned the fees Lott and Barber asked for and listed the items in question, a total of 117.
“In no way are we questioning anyone’s integrity, but there may be some confusion as to services provided by the Architect that are not related to the extended duration of the contract,” the letter said.
Wiggins told commissioners he was making his plea in the spirit of compromise.
“We wanted to split the difference with ya’ll,” he said. “Ya’ll have been fair with us.”
The marble floor of edifice also turned out to be problematic. The marble specified for the flooring had to be imported from China, according to Wiggins.
Once the marble was ordered, it took six months for delivery.
“I fought that for eight months,” Wiggins said.
County commissioners will revisit the issue at their May 15 meeting and instructed Assistant County Attorney Eric Gotwalt to look into what they could do.
“It’s a gorgeous, beautiful building,” commission Chairwoman Verna Phillips said, “and a great tribute to Effingham County.”