The scene at Greenmeadows Centre on Main Rd Stoke last week despite contractors saying it would be finished by the end of June. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Contractor defends blowout

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The contractor behind Stoke’s over budget and over time Greenmeadows Centre is defending itself from criticism as concern mounts over its handling of the build.

The centre was initially meant to be completed by the end of last year, but issues have surrounded its construction – including having the budget increase from $6.14 million to $7.19 million.

At the end of March, the contractor, Watts and Hughes Construction, assured council staff that it would be completed by the end of June. Now, that deadline has been pushed out to August, for the centre to be fully open.

Last week, it was revealed that issues had surrounded the build, including not ensuring the correct waterproof coating on its cladding, meaning that it needed to be replaced.

Watts and Hughes Construction Director Rob Murphy acknowledged in a statement that the project had been difficult.

He said the construction of the Greenmeadows Centre project had been “a challenging project” for Watts and Hughes, particularly with regards to resourcing.

“Sourcing labour from the local Nelson market has been extremely difficult.”

The company are providing additional labour from Christchurch along with supervisors from its Christchurch office.

“We acknowledge that we have had some quality issues on site including the installation of the exterior cladding, which we are currently replacing,” Rob said.

Council said that the cost of any mistakes will be borne by the contractor.

Rob said: “We note that the building has, and will be, constructed in accordance with the requirements of the contract and that any quality issues either have been or will be addressed as required to ensure this project is completed to a high standard. ”

“We will ensure the required resources and supervision are provided to meet the required standard. We have a history of producing quality civic buildings, and we are working with Nelson City Council to ensure this is the case with the Greenmeadows Centre.”

Council chief executive Pat Dougherty said the objective was to ensure a quality building is constructed.

“We are focused on making sure that the contractor completes this building to a high standard. Over the past five months we have allocated additional resource to oversee the work undertaken.”

This has included weekly visits from the architect, daily visits from the project manager, and weekly building inspections.

Mayor Rachel Reese’s concerns mirrored those of the general public.

“The people of Stoke deserve a quality building, and council staff are working with the contractor to make sure that is delivered. We have been assured that the number one priority of staff is that the building is completed as expected and will perform well into the future.”