Contractor sues city, architects for $7M over delays in library renovation
March 18, 2015
By Catherine Thompson
The general contractor on the renovation and expansion of Kitchener's main library is suing the city and the architects on the project for $7 million, saying that hundreds of changes to the design led to costly delays.
The general contractor, Maystar General Contractors of Vaughan, filed a statement of claim last May, seeking $7,005,325.93 in damages from four parties: the City of Kitchener; LGA Architectural Partners of Toronto; Philip H. Carter of Toronto, an architect specializing in library design; and WalterFedy, a Kitchener firm that was responsible for the design of the parking garage and for engineering design for the overall project.
According to documents filed in court in Kitchener, the city and Maystar signed a contract in September 2010 that work would start on Nov. 1, 2010, and be substantially complete by March 1, 2013. Both the city and Maystar later agreed to change the completion date to April 3, 2013.
Kitchener's newly renovated central library reopened in May 2014, more than a year later than the date specified in the contract. The $49-million renovation and expansion added a two-storey extension and a three-level underground parking garage that is shared with other users, and fully renovated all three floors of the Queen Street building. The library remained open for much of the construction period, adding to the complexity of the project.
In its statement of claim, Maystar alleges that the city and three firms named in the lawsuit made "an excessive number of design changes," including 307 proposed changes, 273 more formal change orders and hundreds of requests for information.
Maystar also blamed a number of other problems for the project's construction delays. It alleges that the city failed to give the contractor the authority to enter into subcontracts at the start of the project; that the city failed to give the contractor access to the work area in advance of the project; that it faced "substantial difficulties" getting construction drawings; and said the defendants frequently failed "to provide appropriate and timely responses" to Maystar's "multiple" requests for information.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The variety of problems caused a delay of 54 weeks, Maystar alleges. The delay meant the contractor faced a number of extra costs, for everything from extra financing and administration costs to the costs of renting toilets for the construction site, amounting to some $4.7 million, Maystar alleges.
The four defendants filed statements of defence rejecting each of the allegations and blaming Mayfair for the delays.
WalterFedy alleged that Mayfair didn't actually provide a construction schedule until March 2011, six months after it signed the contract with the city. The defending firms say they provided the required technical drawings "with reasonable promptness." WalterFedy said it provided drawings that were detailed enough for an experienced contractor to carry out the work in reasonable time. Instead, WalterFedy alleges, Maystar "made unnecessary and numerous enquiries about the contract documents (and technical drawings), which caused further delays."
In its statement of defence, the city argues that Maystar provided updates to the construction schedule only "on a sporadic basis," and alleges that whenever the contractor was questioned about why work was taking longer than scheduled, "Mayfair consistently failed...to give a reasonable explanation for any of the delays."
In its counterclaim, the city says the construction delays cost the municipality some $2 million for things like extra fees to project consultants and lost revenue from delays in opening the parking garage.
LGA said in its statement of defence that any changes to the design "were neither excessive nor unreasonable," given "the complexities of the construction."
LGA slammed the contractor for numerous "unnecessary field inquiries" that it said were not due to unclear technical documents, but to "Maystar's inability to understand or unwillingness to conduct a reasonable analysis of the existing construction documents."
All of the firms named in the lawsuit have extensive experience on a variety of complex construction projects, according to their respective websites.
WalterFedy worked on the renovation of the Tannery in Kitchener, the University of Waterloo's Environment 3 building, and many other local projects. Maystar worked on the Vaughan Civic Centre, a high school and rec complex in Woodbridge, and several commercial and public projects. LGA worked on the University of Waterloo's school of architecture in Cambridge and Themuseum in downtown Kitchener, among many other projects. Carter worked on more than 30 library projects in Ontario.