The Rex project is going to cost more and take longer – again.

Council has received an update on the Hepburn Hub at the Rex project which projects a cost for the next phase of $8.755M. This represents an increase of $1.625M over the previously approved budget and reflects additional works required to address site conditions.

The increase is based on an estimate by a quantity surveyor and may require further adjustment after tenders are received. A dispute over the site conditions was the subject of protracted negotiations with the previously contracted Hutchinson Builders. Because the dispute could not be resolved, Council and Hutchinson parted ways without any work being started.

The projected cost of renovations is now nine times the initial estimate. Cost blowouts early in the project resulted in an audit of the project by Crowe Horwath and in investigation by the Local Government Inspectorate. The LGI report has not been finalised two years after their investigations started. Although Crowe Horwath have provided an interim audit report, they were ordered to halt finalisation of their report until after release of the LGI report. A request by The Wombat Post for a copy of the interim Crowe Horwath report has been refused by Council and is now the subject of an FoI request.

Although the planned program for the project indicated that tenders would close on September 9, the closure date has been set back to October 1. Council hopes to have a contract signed and work commenced by the end of November. It is desired that works on the roof commence prior to Christmas to ensure the building is watertight over the summer storm period.

The projected date for occupation is September 1, 2022.

Although the scope and funding of the project have been decided and the facility design completed, Council has resolved to establish a community-based Project Reference Group with up to six community members.

The purpose of the group is to form an additional conduit for sharing information with community about the project, to assist with community understanding of decision making and review the completion of the construction and occupation stages. It will not be a decision making group but a place where Council can share information, provide updates and hear community insights.

Council will call for expressions of interest for the Project Reference Group.


Related Stories:

The Inspectorate Report – How Long is Too Long?

Council and Builder Part Ways on Rex Project

Rex Costs and Timelines Blow Out – Again