Project Delivery Methods

Anyone who has ever taken on a construction project is well aware that most projects display some cost overruns, time delays, and conflicts among the various parties. Of course, the object of the game is to mitigate these risks as much as possible. One of the ways you can accomplish this is by choosing the right project delivery method to start with.

It is the owner who ultimately decides which project delivery method to use. Unfortunately, many owners are ill-equipped to make a thorough assessment of the many factors that can impact project success relative to the owner’s specific criteria. Too often they choose a traditional methodology simply because they are familiar with it. 

What is Project Delivery?

Project delivery is the process by which all the procedures and components of designing and building a facility are organized and put together in an agreement that results in a completed project. For example, with a larger build-out project utilizing an architect, the process would begin with the compilation of needs and requirements of the owner spelled out in the architectural program. These needs and requirements are first expressed in preliminary plans from which initial material, equipment, and systems selections are made. With these selection decisions, the design becomes further refined until all design decisions are made and a final set of contract plans and specifications is completed. The owner then determines which procurement methodology (purchasing steps) to use to buy the construction services and the criteria that will be used to select the contractor. Finally, the owner selects which type of contract to employ. Once selected, the contractor goes about planning an overall strategy for delivering the project in accordance with the plans and specs that have been developed. All the parts and pieces of the agreement are put in place, and also determines how the players will interact and communicate with one another over the course of the project.

What is Project Delivery?

There are four primary project delivery methods: Design-bid-build, at-risk-construction management, design-build, and integrated project delivery. Keep in mind that the functions associated with construction management are required in all four methods even though only one of them is actually named “construction management.”

These four project delivery methods differ in five fundamental ways:

  • The number of contracts the owner executes 

  • The relationship and roles of each party to the contract

  • The point at which the contractor gets involved in the project

  • The ability to overlap design and construction 

  • Who warrants the sufficiency of the plans and specifications

Regardless of the project delivery method chosen, the three key players – the owner, the designer (architect and or engineer), and the contractor are always involved. Each of these methods has specific advantages and disadvantages, and it is the owner’s responsibility to assess the project delivery choices in relation to their project needs.

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