Choosing the Right Project Delivery Method

Project Delivery is a comprehensive process including planning, design and construction required to execute and complete a commercial build. Choosing a project delivery method is one of the fundamental decisions owners make at the onset of a construction project.

Determining the project delivery method is one of the most important decisions made by every owner embarking on a construction project. Choosing the best method for any project must start with a good understanding of choices available. Owners must also have a firm grasp of the impact of each choice, because the delivery method establishes when parties become engaged; it influences the choices of contractual relationships; and it influences ownership and impact of changes and modification of project costs. It is important to choose a delivery method that best meets the unique needs of each owner and their project.

Construction Management Characteristics

This delivery method entails a commitment by the Construction Manager(CM) for construction performance to deliver the project within a defined schedule and price, either a fixed lump sum or a guaranteed maximum price (GMP). The CM provides construction input to the owner during the design phases and becomes the general contractor during the construction phase.

  • Three prime players: owner, designer and CM-constructor.
  • Two separate contracts: owner to CM-constructor and owner to designer.
  • Owner warrants the sufficiency of the plans and specs to the CM-Constructor:
  • Owner is responsible for the "details" of design.
  • Owner is liable for any "gaps" between the plans and specs and the owner's requirements for performance.Owner hires a General Contractor or Design Build team
  • The Design Build team is fully responsible to the owner for the delivery of a project
  • Typically at some point (as early as possible) in the process a GMP is established
  • Communication for the project flows through the General Contractor or Design Build team to the owner

Design Build Characteristics

This method of project delivery includes one entity (design-builder) and a single contract with the owner to provide both architectural/engineering design services and construction.

  • Integrated process: overlapped design and construction – typically fast tracked.
  • Two prime players: owner and design-build entity.
  • One contract – owner to design-builder with single point of responsibility.
  • The design-builder is responsible to design and construct the project to meet the performance standards set forth by the owner in the contract.
  • Cost efficiencies can be achieved since the contractor and designer are working together throughout the entire process:
  • Fewer changes, fewer claims and less litigation.
  • Earlier knowledge of firm costs.
  • Change orders typically limited to owner changes

Design-Bid-Build Characteristics

The traditional U.S. project delivery method typically involves three sequential project phases: The design phase, which requires the services of a designer who will be the "designer of record" for the project; the bid phase, when a contractor is selected; and a build or construction phase, when the project is built by the selected (typically low bid) contractor. This sequence usually leads to a sealed bid, fixed-price contract.

  • Three linear phases: design, bid and build.
  • Three prime players: owner, designer and contractor.
  • Two separate contracts: owner to designer and owner to contractor.
  • Architect is fully responsible for estimates, constructability and design
  • Owner warrants the sufficiency of the plans and specs to the contractor:
  • The contractor is responsible to build the project as designed.
  • The designer is responsible to design to the professional standard of care.
  • Owner is responsible for any "gaps" between the plans and specs and the owner's requirements for performance.

To keep your investment safe and your construction project progressing smoothly, it is vital that an owner consider all project needs and priorities when determining the best project delivery method. Not sure which choice is most appropriate for your specific project, contact Chief Construction today. Our team can offer valuable insights during every step of your decision-making process, beginning with pre-design, pre-construction services and continuing through project completion.