BAR HARBOR — An unexpectedly low bid has won E.L. Shea Builders of Ellsworth the contract for the walls and windows replacement project at Mount Desert Island High School.
The school’s trustees voted last week to accept Shea’s bid of $586,860.
Of the seven companies that bid on the job, only Shea came in under $630,000. The high bid of $1.18 million was submitted by T-Buck Construction of Turner.
Architect Mike Sealander, who designed the project, told the trustees in December that he estimated it would cost around $658,000. And that was without the more expensive siding and insulation option, which the trustees approved. Shea’s bid includes $56,881 for that option.
Sealander said Monday that he had checked with Shea to make sure their bid was not a mistake.
“They knew they were coming in very low, but they wanted the project,” Sealander said.
He said one reason Shea could submit such a low bid is that they own the necessary equipment, including a 50-ton crane.
“So, they can pick up the material and drop it into the [school’s] courtyard. And they chose not to charge the project for using that equipment.
“Still, I think their ability to have a profitable project is slim to none,” Sealander said. “If they were a fly-by-night firm, I would think twice about recommending them, but they’re not.”
Shea was established in 1926.
“They’ve done business in this area for that long,” Sealander said. “They’re not going away. They have a reputation to defend, and I think they’re going to do that.”
The timeframe for completing the walls and windows project is very tight. The work can’t start until June 9, the scheduled last day of classes, and needs to be finished before teachers return in late August.
The project is considered a high priority because, for several years, leaking has occurred around a number of windows in the school’s classroom wing. A series of inspections determined that the windows and adjacent walls were not installed correctly when the wing was built in 2000. School officials decided that all of the improperly installed walls and windows, whether leaking yet or not, should be replaced.
The trustees had hoped to have the work done last summer. But for a variety of reasons, including bids that come in much higher than expected and the lack of a quorum at several trustees’ meetings, the project had to be delayed until this year.