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Harris care home open at last

Harris care home open at last

A much delayed care home in Harris has finally opened to residents.

The £6.3million, 16-bedroom project was plagued with delays and problems over the past 12 years.

Plans to start construction work in 2010 were postponed.

It risked being scuppered when the initial round of tenders came in at about £1million over the allocated budget.

Even a raft of cuts on plans to save cash was not enough to tackle the rising costs affecting the construction industry on top of building on the difficult, rocky terrain forcing Western Isles Council to plough virtually all of the spare funding it had at the time for major schemes into the project.

When builders eventually moved on site, work was abandoned with the facility only half finished after original contractor, UBC Group, known locally as Uist Builders, crashed with £11.5million debts in 2012.

Weeks of negotiations via administrators Zolfo Cooper to restart construction under a phoenix company, UB Hebrides, failed to come up with a viable proposal to the council.

The job was retendered with Lewis firm Cal Mac winning with the lowest of six bids.

This time, Western Isles Council imposed the normal practice of requiring a performance bond – a form of insurance policy to provide a guarantee of compensation of up to £500,000 if they went bust.

It would cover the extra costs of getting a new firm in to finish off the building work.

The measure was not in place when UBC collapsed though the council retained 10% of its monthly payments to the firm which helped pay for the extra expenses incurred when the builders went into administration, including repairing sewerage problems, continued rentals to a scaffold hire firm, site security and professional fees.

The council had to raid an extra £500000 from its budgets to help finance the additional costs in restarting the work.

An official opening ceremony is planned for November.

The present Harris House will be demolished.

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