HARVARD -- The Hildreth House Improvement Committee heard the latest construction costs for the building's renovation at their meeting on Monday, when Drayton Fair, of LLB architects, presented a total phased construction cost of about $2.9 million.

Fair stressed that the numbers are only construction costs, and not reflective of the entire project. Other costs include architectural engineering fees, document printing costs, testing fees, owners project manager fees and contingencies, he said.

Phase 1 of the project, estimated at $691,490, includes creating the first phase of the parking installment, raising the porch, installing a vertical lift and creating an accessible restroom on the second floor.

At $357,424, Phase 2 includes an upper level parking lot, an extension of the covered porch, a vestibule connected to the existing porch in the rear of the building, and more.

The final phase, estimated at $1.9 million, includes a kitchen renovation, a large dining room addition, the renovation of all building systems and a multipurpose room on the second floor.

Fair said there could be about $247,517 in savings if the project is done all at once. Three separate phases, he said, will mean paying an architect three different costs instead of paying a one-time cost for the whole job.

"You're also going to be paying three separate bidding and advertisement costs, you're going to be paying three separate printing costs," he said. "So every phase is really a new project."

The committee ultimately voiced support for combining Phase 1 and 2 and doing Phase 3 separately. They asked Fair for the site costs of combining Phases 1 and 2.

"I'd do both phases at once, simply because you get a lot of visual for the amount of money you're spending," said member David Vannicola. "You have something happening to the house with a wraparound porch, you add it to your landscaping. You've almost doubled the impact, and I think that will be important."

In a vote of 5-1, the committee rejected a gable-style roof -- which would have added an extra $7,548 -- for the cheaper dormer style.

The committee briefly re-hashed Selectman Leo Blair's proposal to build more housing on the Hildreth House land.

"I think we can't really talk about that because we don't have the plan," said Chairman Connie Larrabee.

Selectman Lucy Wallace said there would be many hoops to go through in order to figure the whole thing out.

"It could be it works out that there's housing and the developer helps to underwrite that cost," said Wallace, referring to the idea that a developer who buys the land could, in turn, pay for Hildreth improvements. "Who knows what, it doesn't preclude it by going forward. You can't just stop and wait to see how it works out."

The next step is having the owner's project manager take a look at the plan and come up with the soft costs.

"Please do not go to the selectmen without the total project cost," Fair warned.

Member Ann Taylor voiced concern over the amount of money left for paying for design preparations.

"I feel pretty strongly we need to be a little bit more responsible about this," she said.

Wallace said she believes there is about $30,000 left for the Hildreth House in the schematic warrant article that funded the work, but said she could check with Finance Director Lorraine Leonard.

The committee finalized its priorities going forward, including updating the Council on Aging, agreeing with the council on a strategy for the project's presentation at annual town meeting and presenting the plan to the selectmen.

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