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The Design Build approach to project delivery uses win-win solutions, including those of having the best balance of cost, function, efficiency, maintainability, and delivery for projects.

For many owners today, the Design/Build approach is the project delivery method of choice, becoming increasingly more popular in the last 10 years. From consulting engineers to contractors, it is important to become familiar with the process.

Several things are needed for a successful Design/Build project:

  • A well-defined and explicit scope of work
  • A specific range of responsibility for each team member, and criteria for measurement
  • A knowledgeable owner who can make quick, sound decisions
  • Experienced, competent team members
  • A cohesive team with members fully committed to the owner’s common needs and goals

Everything comes back to timeliness as the most significant factor in implementing the Design/Build approach. The project moves rapidly, and as such, you must make decisions quickly. This results in a better opportunity for you to make a profit. Most construction people agree that the longer it takes for completing a project, the lower probability involved companies will turn a profit.

The single source of responsibility for the owner is the Design/Build team leader, who is normally the member who is financially and legally capable of entering a contract and guaranteeing completion of work.

The Design/Build team will require detailed needs and expectations from the owner, as well as a good initial scope. Failure to have a fully defined scope of needs and expectation up-front may result with a final product that doesn’t meet the goals of the owner. When Design/Build concepts are implemented, the architect is part of the design team, and the client is the owner.

To achieve success, there must be synergy between the owner, general contractor, design team, and subcontractors. Members should be experienced and capable of coming up with their own solutions to problems and issues – those that can incorporate the best balance of cost, function, efficiency, maintainability, and delivery of the project.

It is essential for the engineer in the Design/Build project to be open-minded, flexible, and willing to consider all options. Then, they can come up with the best design solution that combines safety, function, and effectiveness. This balance can vary for every project and owner.

A must for success is compromise and cooperation, as well as a knowledgeable representative for the owner to the Design/Build process. This person must be capable of making decisions quickly, as without a rapid response from a knowledgeable representative the Design/Build process may stall. This can reduce the time benefits of this strategy, and can result in the process reverting to more of the traditional Design/Bid/Build concept, inevitably resulting in Design/Review/Design.

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