Project Delivery Methods—Which One is Right for You?

April 10, 2020

You may have heard the term, “Project Delivery Method,” but what does it really mean and why should it matter to you?

The Design-Build Institute of America defines project delivery as a comprehensive process including planning, design, and construction required to execute and complete a building facility or other type of project. In other words, it’s the entire process from the initial conceptual ideas to handing over the keys to your new facility. It’s very important as it is one of the first major decisions you will make on your journey toward a new commercial facility. You need to know HOW and WHAT the process is going to be, so you know the roadmap of the entire process.

To date, the most popular project delivery methods are Design-Bid-Build (DBB), Design-Build (DB), and Construction Manager at Risk (CMGC). All three have their own advantages and disadvantages, and certain projects often fit better with different delivery methods.

In DBB, the key players are the owner, architect (designer), and contractor. It’s more of a linear process—the owner hires the designer first, who creates the design and construction documents. Then, the owner and architect put the project out for “bid”. Typically, the low bidder is selected and then the owner contracts with that builder. It’s a familiar process with clear responsibilities, normally with a fixed cost and fixed scope contract. The disadvantages to this method are:

  • Owner is responsible for the design documents
  • Lowest bidder may not be the best contractor
  • The architect and contractor may not have a good working relationship
  • There is no input from the builder during the design phase

There is a greater chance of costly change orders

In CMGC, the key players are the owner, designer, and construction manager. The owner hires an architect for design services and hires a construction manager at-risk, so there are two separate contracts. The architect creates the construction documents with construction manager’s input. Then, the construction manager acts as general contractor for the construction. This method is normally a faster process than DBB, and the contractor is involved earlier, so there is earlier knowledge of construction costs. The disadvantages to this method are:

  • Owner is responsible for design documents and owns the risk for the design. Plans and specifications errors and omissions are the owner’s responsibility to fix and pay for

Owner is in charge of the communication of the team and can be in the middle of disputes

In DB, the key players are the owner and design-builder. The owner hires a design-builder and its design team provides construction documents with the build team’s input. Then, the design-builder bids out the project to subcontractors to determine final costs, and a construction contractor is authorized. There is only one contract needed in this method, as there is a single point of responsibility, which also makes it the fastest process. Cost-efficiencies are achieved through collaboration, and the builder is involved early on, so there is earlier knowledge of construction costs. The disadvantages to this method are:

  • There are no “checks and balance” of the architect working directly for the owner

It can be difficult for the owner to verify if they are receiving the best pricing

At Morton, we utilize the design-build project delivery method, primarily for commercial projects. Morton designBUILD is a dedicated team that works with you and your local Morton sales consultant from the beginning to end of your construction project. This collaborative and vertically-integrated team works with you every step of the way to ensure the project stays within budget and on schedule. The team members, including architects, project managers, engineers, drafting technicians, project estimators, and construction management professionals, all utilize the same four-phase project delivery system process.

We developed the designBUILD process with our customer in mind, as it enables us to deliver projects that meet your scope, schedule, and budget. This alleviates stress, eliminates time loss, and ultimately reduces the overall project cost, as our design fees are nominal and included as part of the construction package.

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