CMAR/Design-Build… With a Twist!

May 29, 2019
Nick Dandolos, CCM, PMP, DBIA, ENV SP, MBA &

What if there was an alternative project delivery solution that, if managed correctly, could contribute to substantial project cost savings and shorten schedules? Thankfully, there is such a solution, and it’s a twist on the design-build project delivery methodology.

For this delivery solution, which combines Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) and design-build methods, manufacturers and specialty designers are elevated to the same level as traditional design and trade contracts—instead of being relegated to “sub” roles. The construction manager holds the contracts for these specialty entities, along with contracts for the design, trades, and all other contributors. This approach is beneficial for distinct and complex projects, leading to more efficient outcomes and greater financial benefits over traditional design-bid-build and design-build project delivery methods.

The key to implementing this project delivery model successfully lies in the procurement phase. The CMAR/design-build twist method is a multistep, but rather seamless, process:

  1. The client selects a CMAR/design-build firm using a one-step request for proposal (RFP) process. The selection process is quality-based, emphasizing the management approach offered by the construction manager.
  2. Following the selection of the CMAR/design-build firm, other RFPs are drafted, published, and advertised for the “specialty” participants. These new team members are selected by a committee composed of members from both the client and the CMAR/design-builder. Early involvement of these specialty team members greatly increases their ability to contribute in the design process.
  3. In a separate step of the procurement process, the CMAR/design-builder, with the client’s concurrence, prequalifies a pool of contracting firms that are to submit project execution bids. A request for bids is issued to the prequalified firms, along with construction documents. The most successful, responsible, and responsive low bidder is awarded the project.

The CMAR/design-build with a twist project delivery method not only offers a single point of responsibility and accountability to the client, but provides opportunities to accelerate project delivery and design modifications to meet budget objectives. It allows the design team to interact with specialty manufacturers and suppliers ahead of the bid process, shortening the overall schedule. It also decreases client costs, as projects are awarded to the lowest, qualified bidder through the bid process. This twist on a traditional design-build project delivery method promotes a nonlinear procurement process and a positive team environment, increasing the CM’s value as a trusted advisor to the client.