The company contracted to oversee various construction projects at the University of Hawaii is suing the school for more than $4.6 million over complications related to two projects, including $2.8 million for costly delays to the brand-new UH Manoa Campus Center.

The Campus Center complaint, filed in Circuit Court on Monday, comes on the heels of a separate lawsuit brought against the university by the same company, Honolulu Builders LLC, earlier this month. That suit contains similar allegations about another ongoing construction project, Hawaii Community College’s new Hale Aloha building.

Monday’s lawsuit basically accuses UH — specifically its procurement and capital improvement offices — of being unprofessional in handling numerous delays that held up the recently completed $47 million Campus Center Renovation and Expansion Project, which includes a $38 million fitness and recreation center. The center which was partially funded by student fees, opened earlier this month — more than a year later than planned.

UH spokeswoman Lynne Waters declined to comment on the issues Monday, citing the pending lawsuits.

University officials have in the past blamed the delays on a range of unforeseen and unavoidable setbacks, including problems with infrastructure and utilities, as well as unanticipated revisions to the plan.

But in the lawsuit, Honolulu Builders describes these setbacks as being the result of “myriad deficiencies and missteps in the design and management of the Project by UH and its consultants,” saying they resulted in more than $6 million in extra work, the bulk of which the university hasn’t yet paid for.

Those setbacks, according to Honolulu Builders, include the university’s failure to either mark or disclose the location of things like waterlines and pipelines, which led to utility breaks and productivity losses.

The university allegedly refused to give the company additional time to complete the project despite the “obvious increase in extra scope” of the work, forcing the company to accelerate its efforts which significantly boosted the amount of daily labor, according to the lawsuit.

The project was initially contracted for $27.3 million — nearly $20 million less than the current estimated cost. And according to the lawsuit, the project suffered 564 days — or about one and a half years — of delays.

“We were under a lot of duress to complete everything,” said Honolulu Builders head Tom Ryan. He said that more than 200 changes were made to the project contract.

All in all, the university and its design team failed to properly communicate with Honolulu Builders regarding key changes to the project and then ignored the company’s subsequent efforts to negotiate and resolve disputes and adjustments to the plan, the lawsuit says.

Had the university addressed the claims “in a responsible and timely manner,” the lawsuit could’ve been avoided, according to a statement from Honolulu Builders.

“We ended up financing the University of Hawaii and the state,” Ryan said. “We thought that we were going to be able to meet with them in earnest and have a dialogue and work through the issues.”

“It’s regrettable that we’re in this situation,” he continued.

Hale Aloha Project

The issues with the renovation project at Hawaii Community College’s Hilo campus are allegedly similar, the other lawsuit says. The complaint revolves around a building that is slated to house the college’s nursing program.

In this case, delays and design problems allegedly added an additional $1.85 million of work to Honolulu Builder’s contract, which led to claims that, according to the company, the university has not been willing to address.

The project, according to the company’s press release, started 479 days behind schedule. That was compounded by another 279 days of delays related to problems obtaining building permits and difficulties with landscaping and civil engineering, among other complications.

One of the most egregious setbacks, according to Ryan, is that the university started construction on the project before it even got a building permit or hazardous materials report.

“It made absolutely no sense as far as how that project is directed,” Ryan said.

Hale Aloha is slated for completion this July, more than a year behind schedule.


Campus Center

Hale Aloha

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