The Salvation Army has been active in Bermuda for more than 125 years providing various services to our community but most notably – for over 55 years, the Salvation Army has provided quality transitional housing and support programmes for the most vulnerable in our society.
This project actually began in 2019 when the site was in need of urgent repairs and upgrades. In fact it was the number one issue on the agenda when I first met the last Divisional Commander, Major Sandra Stokes.
At that time Public Works Civil Engineers carried out a structural assessment of the buildings and agreed that only a few needed to be demolished and replaced, while others required some upgrading.
That first phase of refurbishment was championed by two local philanthropists, who through their effort and contribution to this worthy cause, made those works possible.
The Government of Bermuda, through the Bermuda Housing Corporation, engaged in a Public-Private Partnership with Mr. Jim Butterfield and Mr. Kirk Kitson to rehabilitate and refurbish the Shelter buildings and they are with us today to witness the conclusion of this work.
It was agreed that the government would match the funding that was raised by them to upgrade the facility. A methodical approach was undertaken to repair the salvageable buildings one at a time – while the buildings that were beyond repair were to be demolished.
At the same time, building works were in progress consideration was given on what style of replacement building would be ideal for the site. Many transitional housing options were considered. The Salvation Army and BHC agreed on what the replacement buildings would be – the new container building design.
Significant work, including the replacement of roofs, repairs to walls and foundations, and extensive plumbing and electrical work have been completed. Two residential buildings housing the men and women of the Shelter have been remodeled and refurbished, and the central building housing the Administration staff, common areas, and the kitchen were repaired. That work was completed in December 2020.
We then turned our attention to the new builds but Covid came and essentially progress for a year was slowed considerably during shelter in place and lock downs. Work progressed however, with Plans being drawn, sourcing of containers, surveying of the property, demolition of the old units, consultation with the departments of Planning, Health, Environment and the Fire Service, building supplies sourced, piling engineering and preparation for construction to begin.
In October 2019, the first discussion of container housing started with a plan to have 3 blocks which would have seven rooms with two persons per room for a total of forty- two persons. These were to be single story buildings. The estimate at that time was $454,326 per block for a total of $1,362,978 for the project, but foundation costs and customs duties had to be added. These were to be pre-configured containers with only the addition of furnishings needed.
In January 2020, a request was made for grant funding of $1M to be set aside for the upgrading of the Salvation Army shelter and were approved in the 2020/21 Budget. In March 2020, a review of the estimate was completed but this time the containers would be purchased empty and assembled in Bermuda. These would be three two- story blocks with ten beds per block for a total of thirty beds. This estimate was $348,000.00 per block which included $48,000.00 for foundation and steel, total for all three blocks of $1,912,000.00. This estimate however did not include any freight or duties. The Projects Department started work on design in January 2021 and went through two different plans having agreed to the final plan in June 2021, which is the two, two-story blocks with fourteen single rooms in each block for a total of twenty- eight units that we are opening today.
As we all are aware Covid is having a significant impact on the availability and cost of materials, this project was no different. However, the most significant increase in the project is the pile foundations increase to $551,580.75 from the original estimate of $44,000 due to the massive increases in the price of steel and the level we had to drive the piles down before hitting a solid surface (12 pile foundations were driven to depths greater than 90’ with the deepest reaching 151’).
So the total to date, including the remaining contract sums to be paid is: $1,798,531.35 expected to be $1,820,000.00.
Material rates increased by 50%- 150% (2021-2022), greater than 150% in early 2022
Labor and engineering: $628,295.52
Pile foundations: $551,580.75
Local materials: $359,829.00
Overseas materials + shipping $258,826.08
To sum it up, a myriad of challenges were encountered over the course of the project that derived from Covid and global supply chain issues.
During the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2021, further escalation in the materials cost ensued, and unfortunately, no sector was spared; Paint, Steel, lumber, Plumbing, electrical, door hardware, adhesives, etc. Delivery times were stretched beyond anticipation due to the high demand for materials. Additionally, local labor resources were already stretched as contractors were busy on various sites throughout the island. This dilemma of increasing costs and supply chain issues will affect other projects currently underway and future ones. We are planning for this eventuality but I anticipate that this will be an unpredictable feature of construction works for the foreseeable future.
So we arrive at today – the project is completed late and over budget as explained. But it is still a day of celebration – the work is done to an outstanding quality and raises the bar for the way we cater to those in need of shelter. I am particularly delighted that we have been able to deliver on our commitment to the Salvation Army and those in need.
Ultimately, as it pertains to the needs of Bermuda’s vulnerable community, the Government’s primary objective is to ensure that the men and women in need of shelter and support have a safe place for refuge. We take another step in that journey by delivering on this project.
Before I conclude I must comment on the relationship between the Government and the Salvation Army. Successive governments have not always supported the work of the Army both financially and with repairs to this site. This government made a decision in 2019 to honour that commitment as the work of the Salvation Army helps Our people.
The Minister of Social Development and Seniors, Minister Furbert also provides financial support through her ministry. This commitment should and must transcend partisan politics – so I again publicly declare that we will continue to support the Salvation Army in this effort – and put down the marker for future governments to do the same. I also offer the thanks of the Government and people of Bermuda to the Salvation Army for the great work you do in this community.
Finally, I’d like to thank all those involved in the construction of this project but particularly – BHC Project Manager – Mr. Keino Furbert-Jacobs for all the work he has done on this project over the last 2 1⁄2 years from researching the replacement buildings, securing planning approvals, organizing the bidding for the work, managing contractors, dealing with supply chain issues and all the other things that crop up during a project such as this – thank you Keino for a job well done.
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