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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A massive base housing renovation project will resume in January after a three-year delay due to contracting problems and come in more than $20 million under budget, according to Yokota base officials.

Yokota’s local contracting office recently took over the bid process for phases four and five of the seven-phase, $232.5 million project after the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment at Brooks City-Base in Texas was unable to hire a construction company within the $97 million budget, said Merry Green, 374th Contracting Squadron chief.

The Yokota office on Friday hired Tokyo-based Nishimatsu Construction to complete the work for $74.7 million. The project includes the renovation of 376 family housing units.

The bulk of the savings was a result of hiring a Japanese company directly, Green said. Contracts for overseas construction at U.S. bases executed stateside usually entail hiring a U.S. firm which then subcontracts the work out to a local company, charging a 20 percent management fee in the process, she said.

"We skipped the middle man," Green said.

The Air Force engineering agency also handed over contracting responsibilities to the Yokota office for the last two phases of the base renovation project as well as project oversight capabilities for the four remaining phases, she said.

Resolving issues related to the improper installation of inadequate air-conditioning systems at 260 units during earlier phases contributed to the contracting delays, Green said.

"We’re now able to have face-to-face interaction and immediate resolution of problems that might happen" during the construction process, she said.

Phase four, which begins in January, includes the refurbishment of 192 homes on the east, west and north sides of the base. Completion is set for spring 2012.

Phase five includes the refurbishment of 184 units on the east, west and north sides of the base. Construction is scheduled to begin 90 days after completion of the previous phase and is scheduled for completion by early 2015.

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