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So You Want To Build A Building. Now What?

You Want to Build A Building w logo

So you want to build a building! That’s great news and we would love to build it for you.

First, however, you will need to decide which project delivery method you would like to use. It is a very important first step and could set the tone for your entire construction project. In this blog post I will discuss the pros and cons of the two most common delivery methods for small to mid-size construction projects.

  • The traditional bid-build model
  • The design-build model

Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages that owners need to be aware of.

In the traditional model, also known as lump sum bid, the owner selects a design team and completes the building design prior to selecting a contractor. Once the design is complete the owner solicits competitive bids from multiple general contractors. In most cases, price is the deciding factor in contractor selection.

Lump sum bid is typically the most cost effective model because it utilizes competitive pricing across the board. Suppliers competitively bid material to subcontractors, subcontractors competitively bid to general contractors, and general contractors competitively bid to the owner. Everyone is providing their best number.

While having the lowest possible initial contract price appears ideal on the surface, there are some distinct disadvantages to be aware of that can ultimately affect the overall success of the project.

  • Did the contractor miss anything in his bid?
  • Can he complete the building within your timing constraints?
  • Are the subcontractors capable of performing their scope of work?
  • Did the design team provide sufficient detail in the bid documents to allow bidders to include all the desired building elements?
  • Does the constructability of the design allow the contractor to be most efficient in his construction operations in order to minimize cost and time?

It is impossible to know the answer to any of these questions when a contract is awarded. However, finding out the answer is no, during construction, can result in delays and additional costs to the project.

The design-build model attempts to mitigate the concerns listed above by involving the contractor at the beginning of the process.  

Instead of splitting the design and construction responsibilities, the design-build contractor is responsible for both. Because the contractor is involved at the onset of the project he can provide valuable insight to ensure scope is complete, contractors are qualified, the design is constructable and he can meet the schedule requirements for the project.

Instead of having design and construction independent of each other, and sometimes at odds with each serving his best interests, the design-build model creates a collaborative team atmosphere where the success of the project is the foremost concern.  

There are certain considerations for an owner to be aware of, however.

In the design-build model the owner does not have the expertise of an architect at his disposal. This creates less control over design and quality of construction. An owner is completely reliant on his contractor.

For that reason, it is imperative that an owner selects a design-build contractor who is trustworthy and has extensive experience in design-build contract work.

To learn more about how we can help you meet your project goals through the design-build process you can contact us here.

– Seth Lind

Harman Senior Project Manager