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Project Delivery Methods

Design-Bid-Build

This is a traditional method and most familiar to the general public and project partners.  The difference between this method and other delivery methods is that the design and construction contracts are held separately by the project owner.  The process for selecting a contractor is based solely on the lowest total construction cost, which varies from other delivery methods.  Those who choose this process for their project typically do so because they feel that they will get the best and most competitive pricing.  However, like other methods, the price of a project is highly dependent on the bidding environment (number of bidders, market prices, etc.) on bid day.  

Some variables to think about when considering the Design-Bid-Build (D-B-B) delivery method:

  • Design and Construction phases must be well planned, since phases occur separately.  Lack of coordination can prolong a project.
  • Owner manages the design and construction contracts separately, which means that there are two parties coordinating efforts with versus one with other delivery methods.
  • Owner holds all the risk in the project, and costs are based on a flat fee, which does not reflect savings for work that was completed for less than the original quote.
  • Construction team bases bids on the lowest bidder versus other delivery methods where the owner is given recommendations and has a voice in this process.
  • During the design phase for other delivery methods, our team has the opportunity to share constructability reviews with the owner.  However the D-B-B method does not account for this type of feedback.

Design-Build

The difference between this method and Design-Bid-Build is that the design and construction contracts are combined and the designer or builder will ultimately hold the contract.  The owner selects the design and construction team based on their combined teams, experience, and track-record.  This method offers one point-of-contact person for both the design and construction phase. Those who choose this process do so because they are informed and feel comfortable with the entire construction process from design to commissioning.

Some variables to think about when considering the Design-Build delivery method:

  • Contractor oversees the design phase and is the point-of-contact for the owner throughout the duration of the project.  This transparency can enhance the project schedule.
  • Owner only manages the construction team, which means that they need to be informed about the entire process, and their requests are reliant on this knowledge.
  • Owner holds less risk in the project than other delivery methods.  However, costs are based on a flat fee, which does not reflect savings for work that was completed for less than the original quote.
  • Construction team bases bids on lowest bidder versus other delivery methods where the owner is given recommendations and has a voice in this process.
  • During the design phase, the construction team has the opportunity to share constructability reviews with the design team and owner, which other delivery methods do not allow for. 

Construction Manager (CM)

The CM process is not so much a delivery method, as it is a project management method.  An owner typically hires a CM because they have a large, complex project and do not have the in-house expertise, or do not have the time available to properly manage the project.  The difference between this method and other delivery methods is that the owner holds a management contract with the CM, a design contract, and general contractor contract, so there are multiple contracts.  However, the owner may rely on the CM to hire and manage the contract with the design team and general contractor.  The actual delivery of the project is based on the CM’s ability to oversee the process and act on behalf of the owner.   

Some variables to think about when considering the CM project management method:

  • The CM manages the project from beginning to end and may aide in the selection of the design team and general contractors.  This is extremely beneficial to owners who do not have the expertise or time to maintain a large, complex construction project. 
  • Owner oversees the CM, who manages the design and construction of the project.  The owner is less involved in the decisions that go into this type of project and relies on the expertise of the CM to successfully make these decisions. 
  • Owner holds less control of the project and pays the CM a flat fee to oversee and manage the project. 
  • The bids are based on whatever type of contract is chosen when hiring the general contractor (if not the current CM). 
  • During the design phase, the CM acts on behalf of the owner – often with little input from the owner.  However, the expertise of the CM is beneficial when it comes to constructability reviews, system/material recommendations, and value engineering solutions with the design team and general contractor.

Construction Manager At Risk (CM At-Risk)

The difference between this method and other delivery methods is that the construction manager guarantees the cost of the project, which is referred to as a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP).  So, the construction manager plays dual roles: 1) acting in the owner’s best interest; and 2) managing and controlling construction costs not to exceed the GMP.  With the CM At-Risk delivery method, the design and construction contracts are held separately by the owner.  However, the construction manager acts as a consultant to the owner in the development and design phases of the project.  Project owners typically choose this delivery method because they hold less risk in the project and have just as much say (if not more) in the entire process. 

Some variables to think about when considering the CM At-Risk delivery method:

  • Contractor acts as a consultant to the owner during the design phase and must act in the Owner’s best interest while delivering the project within the agreed upon GMP.  This GMP is established after the project is awarded, so the Owner selects the CM based on criteria that is other than fee-based.
  • Owner manages design and construction contracts separately, which means that there are two parties coordinating efforts, versus one with other delivery methods.
  • Owner holds less risk in the project with the established GMP.  Plus, any savings that are realized throughout the project are returned to the owner and reflected in the final GMP, which other delivery methods do not account for.
  • The CM bases bids on lowest bidder, while taking into consideration: quality, performance, track-record, etc.  Then, the owner can provide input about who participates in the project versus other delivery methods where bids are awarded solely based on the lowest bidder.
  • During the design phase, the CM acts as a consultant to the owner and has the opportunity to share constructability reviews, system/material recommendations, and value engineering solutions, which other delivery methods do not allow.