Intro to DBIA

Posted on July 8, 2010

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Early on, you discussed a new project with a colleague at a trade organization, who mentioned CM, Design-Build and Integrated Project Delivery. Your facility was in a time crunch to clear financing, and the Board was not motivated to research anything that might upset the lenders. Besides, your organization is dyed-in-the-wool design-bid-build (DBB), the way you always do it.

Fast forward. The project finished just as the economy was bottoming out. You should be happy with the outcome, but considering how hungry everyone told you the subs would be, and the supposedly stable commodity prices during bidding and buyout, cost overruns and some questionable change orders put expenses over the final estimate by 11%—not enough for heads to roll, but not the “deal” you expected as the economy was tanking. And you had other plans for the contingency money, which is long gone.

It stings a little more knowing that might be the last project for a few years. In the back of your head you regret not doing a little more digging into alternate delivery processes; that was the hot topic at the conferences last year.

It is a scenario overheard often.

Owners considering a change in project delivery methods have a lot to consider. Time to educate your self and team, and gain familiarity with new methods are two big ones. A slow economy is an ideal time to catch up on industry trends and research that were neglected for the past couple years.

For an introduction to design-build, the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) is a great place to start your education. At their website they have industry research, a project database, position statements, design-build contracts, and other helpful owner resources. It is the kind of place to get comfortable with information without the fear of having to ask a “dumb question” to a more experience colleague or industry expert. You can read up and then ask smart questions to design professionals or friends who have done a design-build project already.

No one wants to abandon veteran knowledge in favor of being a rookie again. And it is easy to keep doing what has been done in the past, even if it has not turned out as expected: “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. But projects take too long with too much money to come out disappointed nine, twelve, eighteen months later. With design-build, you are applying what you and your organization already know about the project process in a different way.

An investment of time to learn a new skill is one of the best ways to cash in while things are slow, and it can pay dividends on all future projects, whenever they come around again. The next one may pop up without warning, with a time crunch, and financing pressure…

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Posted in: Design-Build