Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

When constructing his annual budget, Macon County manager Derek Roland, under the direction of the commissioners, began the process of identifying capital needs at the Robert C. Carpenter community building, one of Macon County’s most utilized facilities. After working with architect Tom Ritter, the scope of the project grew so large, commissioners decided to divide up the project needs and fund it out of the county’s fund balance rather than allocating funds within the annual operating budget.

A price tag hasn’t been placed on the Robert C. Carpenter community building, but based on the originally proposed renovation project, the entire facility will get a significant facelift. The county plans to go room by room in the community building to upgrade the building from top to bottom.

The project scope on the carpenter building spans four pages of upgrades that will be prioritized. Among proposed upgrades are removing and replacing existing glaze on the floors, new handicapped parking spaces, permanent benches in the lobby, new cabinets and LED lighting throughout the building and a new floor in the gym.

The renovation project will be completed in phases to allow the community building to remain in use while renovations are being completed.

Macon County stands to save taxpayers a considerable amount of money by utilizing a 2011 law that exempts the owner of a property from being required to use a general contractor.

The 2011 law that allows the county to complete the renovations without a general contractor states that in building construction projects where the property owner intends to solely occupy the building being altered or built on his own property, he can act as his own general contractor and perform the duty of superintending the construction project himself. The exemption extends to firms and corporations and states that an individual who is legally authorized to act on behalf of the firm or corporation.

To be eligible for the exemption the county will have to submit a verified affidavit to the local building inspector. The affidavit states that the county will have to personally superintend and manage all aspects of the construction project and that the county will not delegate the duty to anyone else. The county would also have to be present for all building inspections. The affidavit was also submitted to the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors for verification, review, and approval.

“What I am proposing is that the county use the owner-contractor provision in the North Carolina General Statues that allows for agencies that own property to serve as the general contractor during a renovation project,” Roland said to commissioners last week. “I feel like with the team we have assembled, including architect Tom Ritter, planning and permitting director Jack Morgan, and parks and rec director Seth Adams, that we are capable of handling the task at hand.”

Roland met with Adams, Ritter, Morgan, and others on Tuesday afternoon to discuss moving forward with the project. Roland noted that the project will be done with a series of sub-contractors with him acting as the general contractor on the project to meet the requirements of the exemption. The county’s maintenance department will handle a lot of the demolition work. In addition to upgrading the building, Roland said that the group decided yesterday to also renovate the parking lot, including a new layer of asphalt. A budget for the project still hasn’t been set, but according to Roland, the county will have a better idea of the overall cost when bids come in.