Owner representative saves money on county building projects

Jeff Sweeney receives a plaque from County Mayor Chad Graham in the second floor courtroom at Bedford County Courthouse.
In this August 2022 photo, Jeff Sweeney is thanked by County Mayor Chad Graham for his service on Bedford County Board of Commissioners. 

Former county commissioner Jeff Sweeney serves as the county’s owner representative for construction and renovation projects. His work has saved the taxpayers many times what he’s paid, said County Mayor Chad Graham.

Sweeney, a general contractor who has been building custom homes for decades, receives an annual retainer as well as a payment of 0.85 percent of the cost of major projects. He serves as the county’s representative, making sure that the work done by the architects and contractors meets the county’s expectations.

“Having an owner representative involved, right from the very outset of a project, has saved us money,” said Graham. “Jeff Sweeney is a former county commissioner, with the interests of the county in mind, and the 0.85 percent fee is well below market value.”

Graham said his office believes in transparency and open government and would gladly have shared information about Sweeney’s employment with any commissioner who had asked his office for it prior to a recent meeting in which questions were raised.

Some of the ways Sweeney has saved the county money include:


  • When the county was considering postponing a portion of the project to save money, Sweeney noted that it would cost the county much more, $750,000, to add that space as a separate project in three years. Instead, it made the most financial sense to build the structure all at once.
  • Sweeney forced the architect, contractor, and subcontractors to warranty all of the HVAC system for an additional four years while the HVAC engineer redesigned the units at no cost to the county, saving the taxpayers $100,000.
  • Sweeney constructed a service building for 30 percent less than the general contractor had planned to charge, saving the taxpayers $55,000;
  • Sweeney mitigated drainage design and elevation, saving the taxpayers $45,000.
  • Sweeney renegotiated the architect’s fees downward, saved the taxpayers $35,000 with a change to the planned flooring.
  • Required the architect to design a collapsible filing system in order to save space for the project


  • Sweeney required the contractor and architect, rather than the taxpayers, to pay for multiple mistakes which would have cost $70,000 to repair. He required a contractor to replace flooring twice, due to flawed installation, at the contractor’s expense.
  • He required a reworking of the roof, which did not match the color of the existing building, a cost of $60,000 which the taxpayers did not have to pay.


  • During the final walkthrough, Sweeney identified multiple issues that needed to be addressed, such as warped doors, inadequate insulation in the auditorium, and roof flashing issues. The floor issue alone would have cost the taxpayers $800,000 to repair.
  • Sweeney reviewed multiple change orders that were determined to be the contractor’s responsibility, not the taxpayers’. These totaled more than $100,000.
  • Sweeney had discrepancies in the school’s parking and drainage repaired at no expense to the taxpayers.


Sweeney worked with architects and engineers to reduce the footprint of the building by 10,000 square feet. He had geothermal heating and cooling removed from the project due to long-term problems that have been seen with such projects in the past.

During the construction project, Sweeney has been on site weekly to make sure the school system, and the taxpayers, are getting what they are paying for, checking construction quality, and helping ensure the project stays on track.


  • Sweeney ensured that the renovation of the second and third floors of Bedford County Courthouse Annex was completed on time and within budget, allowing two fee offices to move out of rental space elsewhere.
  • Sweeney relocated Bedford County Archives storage into the archives building on North Main Street near the courthouse.

“I think we’re extremely fortunate to have someone with Jeff Sweeney’s experience and knowhow, and his love of the county, in this position, and I believe he is worth every cent he’s been paid,” said Graham. “His work has resulted in a net benefit to the taxpayers.”

The mayor urged citizens with further questions to reach out to his office, 931-684-7944

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