"Design-build delivers savings, efficiency"
By Mark Jackson
Vancouver Business Journal, July 25, 2008
If you’re considering building a new facility or expanding the one you're currently in, you owe it to yourself to take a close look at the design-build delivery method.
is not a fad. It’s a proven system that offers design and assembly integration, resulting in reduced costs, minimized project duration, higher quality materials, and increased efficiency and productivity for the design consultants, contractor, and project owner. In fact, construction experts expect design-build to exceed the conventional design-bid-build approach and become the industry standard in the next decade.
During the late 1990s, the Construction Industry Institute teamed with Pennsylvania State University to conduct a study of design-build construction. They found that, on average, design-build projects are completed 12 to 33 percent faster than traditional design-bid-build projects. The study also found that using the design-build process results in cost-savings of 6 percent over design-bid-build, with savings reaching as much as 40 percent in some instances.
The results from design-build projects we've completed at Schlecht Construction in recent years – LifePort, LifePort Interiors, Heritage Centre
, R.D. Olson Manufacturing, and JL Storedahl & Sons – conform closely to the numbers from the Penn State study.
I've seen what can happen when things go wrong during design-bid-build jobs. Too often, projects are not delivered on time or on budget. In most cases, problems can be traced back to a single factor: the lack of single-source oversight of design and assembly. In one instance that I witnessed, this resulted in cost overruns of hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single project.
So, if you're a project owner interested in the design-build model, where do you begin?
Your first step is to determine who qualifies as a legitimate design-build contractor. An examination of the following items should provide a good assessment:
- Is design-build the company's primary focus? If so, they will be able to supply you with design-build literature, information about continuing education provided to management and staff, and evidence of design-build marketing efforts.
- Does the company have a solid track record? This comes in the form of a list of successful design-build projects and recommendations from past clients, designers, engineers, and subcontractors.
- Is a delivery system in place to manage and coordinate design-build projects? A company representative should be able to describe roles, responsibilities, and a sequence of general procedures, and supply organizational charts used for design-build jobs.
- Does the company possess the necessary technical equipment to handle a design-build project? This will include large-format scanning, AutoCAD document control software, high-capacity electronic correspondence, and more.
- Are conceptual estimating systems and data available for client examination? For a design-build project to be successful, skilled conceptual estimators are essential; they must be able to apply costs with or without drawings. In addition to experienced estimators, the company should have a preliminary cost model system and historical cost data specific to various building types and local markets.
As an owner, you will be engaging in a long-term relationship with the company, so it makes sense to conduct due diligence and choose a design-build contractor that earns your trust and confidence.
Mark Jackson is a project manager at Schlecht Construction, Inc. He has 28 years of experience in the construction industry and currently handles the majority of the company's design-build projects in Clark County. Mark is the president of the Southwest Washington Contractors' Association and an alumnus of the Washington State University Leadership Academy. Mark can be reached at
email@example.com or 360.254.5474.