Could you outline some
considerations in selecting a
construction delivery methodology?
“The most powerful force ever
known on this planet is human
cooperation - a force for construction and destruction.”
- Jonathan Haidt
When thinking about undertaking
a construction project—whether a new
greenfield facility or the renovation of an
outdated or compromised building—one
of the major considerations a facilities engineer faces is which con-
struction delivery methodology to deploy. While many factors will
influence the decision of a “best fit” methodology, this column will
present a high level overview of the major options and key factors to
consider. Underlying each is a sense of human cooperation.
While there are several flavors of each delivery method, in today’s
world we can comfortably group these variations on a theme into
Design-Bid-Build (DBB): This is the standard delivery method
used for generations in the United States. In short, the owner retains
an architect to design a building, which is then bid out for construction and finally built. Each segment of the sequence is relatively
discrete, with both the architect and the contractor having a direct
contractual relationship with the owner.
Construction Management At Risk (CMAR): In this evolution,
the owner contracts with a construction manager who acts as an
owner’s representative/consultant during the design phase, but then
assumes the risk for construction, basically as a general contractor.
During construction, all subcontractors work for the construction
manager, without direct contractual relations with the owner.
Design-Build (DB): According to the Design-Build Institute
of America (DBIA), “Design-Build is a method of project delivery
in which one entity—the design-build team—works under a single
contract with the project owner to provide design and construction
services. One entity, one contract, one unified flow of work from initial concept through completion—thereby re-integrating the roles of
designer and constructor.”
Integrated Project Delivery (IPD): The American Institute
of Architects defines IPD as “A project delivery method that
contractually requires collaboration among the primary par-
ties—owner, designer, and builder—so that the risk, responsibil-
ity and liability for project delivery are collectively managed and
appropriately shared.” In the design and construction world, you
will hear reference to “IPD lite” and “full bore IPD”—each refers
to varying degrees of entwinement among the contractual par-
ties. In IPD lite, for example, the parties may not have waived all
claims but are undertaking the project in the spirit of collabora-
tion. Full bore IPD is a slang expression that generally references
an IPD contract encompassing all major parties which often
include the major subcontractors, with each a signatory to the
contract, waiving future claims.
What’s a facilities engineer to do? Behind which contract door
does the dream of a well-run project, or even a project that delivers
the holy grail of completion ahead of schedule and under budget,
Things to think about
No two construction projects are alike. When considering which
project delivery method to use, it helps to first identify the key driving factors, critical paths, and desired outcomes attached to the
undertaking. Is the move-in deadline inflexible? Is there an absolute
budget ceiling? Renovation or new construction? Employees who will
be working on-site during construction? Tolerance for disputes and
change orders? The unique characteristics of each project will point
the way to the best fit delivery method.
Following are the fundamental items to ascertain before selecting
a delivery methodology:
• Design and function: The first and constant consideration is
carefully identifying the type of building required, how it must
function, and key program components. However you structure
your team, you need to be sure the design and engineering firm
is experienced and competent in your building type. A residential
architect, however beautiful his/her house portfolio may be, has
no business designing a clean manufacturing facility!
• Budget: In the end, the proposed building must fit the budget.
No way around that one. Everything traces back to the dollar: financing, risk assessment, building size, and scope. When
developing your initial budget, be sure to include the total
budget cost, including items like legal fees, regulatory approvals, design and engineering fees, furniture, moving costs, etc.
For a detailed checklist, see my earlier column on budgeting for
total project costs: http://www.cemag.us/articles/2011/03/ask-
Richard Bilodeau, PE
SMRT Architects and Engineers
Construction Delivery Methods
square foot Alfond Center
for Health was delivered
ten months ahead of
schedule using IPD. (All
images courtesy SMRT)