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Bucks county courthouse project may be headed toward legal dispute

2/15/2012 | Construction Blog, Real Estate Blog

OnWednesday, Bucks County commissioners voted to postpone action on a contract dispute with Philadelphia-based construction management firm Ernest Bock & Sons Inc. stemming from a project to construct a new courthouse in Doylestown.

The construction dispute reportedly stems from an alleged $174,000 disparity in the estimated cost to install the terra cotta on the exterior of the new Bucks County Justice Center. The project is currently seven months underway, and the Bucks County operations director is predicting there will mostly likely be an eventual legal battle with the general contractor.

According to sources, the original contract estimates that installing pre-cast terra cotta would save the taxpayers $355,000 when compared to the cost of installing tiles one by one. The company, however, says the former approach would only save the county $181,000.

On Wednesday, the Bucks County commissioners voted to accept the company’s $181,000 credit and later fight for the additional credit. There were more drastic measures suggested, however, with one of the commissioners suggesting that the county hold back future payments. Not everybody is convinced, that legal recourse will be taken to resolve the dispute.

The dispute comes relatively early on in the project, which is supposed to be completed by October 2013. Construction of the courthouse is already 10 weeks behind schedule, but a dispute over the terra cotta exterior-according to some of the commissioners-will not delay the construction project.

Contract disputes are not uncommon in construction projects. They can and do come up, and having an experienced advocate can help you to protect your rights.

Source: phillyburbs, “County expects legal battle with courthouse builder,” James McGinnis, February 2, 2012.