Comparing Project Delivery Methods

As many contractors are aware, project delivery methods have been changing. The traditional Design Bid Build (DBB) has been criticized for slowing down project schedules and hurting communication between the planners and the boots on the ground.

Two other project delivery methodologies are becoming increasingly popular on both private and public projects. Design Build (DB) and Construction Manager at Risk (CM@R) both seek to accelerate project schedules and allow for greater control of the project by the contractors who are completing the work.

Design Build is different from DBB. It allows a single entity to manage both the planning and execution of a project. Often, the design does not even need to be completed before beginning work. The advantage to owners is an accelerated timeline and fixed price. The pitfalls of DB are that very few contractors are able to manage it reducing competition and potential issues with change orders and conflicts of interest.

CM@R is a hybrid of DB and DBB. Instead of completely entrusting all responsibility to a single contracting entity, owners maintain some control of design. With basic designs, owners receive bids on the maximum price from competing construction managers. The winning bidder is responsible for ensuring construction costs do not exceed that amount. The advantages to owners are similar to DB, a faster schedule and fixed costs, but many of the risks of DB are also avoided because owners have slightly more control of the design and the CM can better represent the interest of owners.

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CM@R is being used on more and more projects, while advocates of responsible DB have also begun to explore additional implementation of that project delivery method. Contractors have to be aware of the benefit and limitations to both methods so that they can understand the nature of the project.

 

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