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Put Your Beeper Away. The Next Generation of Project Delivery Is Here.

You might not believe this.

In 1980, there was no Google. And if you were ever lost, you better have a map in your back pocket. You definitely couldn't get directions spoken to you from your mobile phone. In fact, mobile phones, if you could afford one, were as large as regular phones.

Which is to say that options were limited, even if we didn't know it at the time.

Unfortunately, you were also limited when delivering your commercial construction projects, which were almost exclusively built using the design-bid-build delivery model.

Under design-bid-build, the engineer or architect was contracted to the owner and had overall responsibility for the design and construction of the project. That traditional delivery method had many positive aspects.

  • The relationship between the owner and design professional was strong.
  • The design professional had a fiduciary responsibility and often became the owner’s trusted advisor.
  • The design professional was diligent about maintaining the integrity of their design, which they saw through from the early portions of the project to the end product.

But, like an 8-track cassette, the traditional project delivery method also had its drawbacks. Schedule delays, legal claims, and cost overruns, to name three big ones.

Then the 1990s came along.

With it came something fresh and exciting.

No, I’m not talking about beepers or compact discs. I’m talking about design-build project delivery.

Compared to traditional design-bid-build project delivery, there were many advantages in design-build project delivery: schedule delays were reduced, coordination was improved, there were fewer claims and cost overruns were limited (but not eliminated).

Now let’s press fast forward to the present day.

The next evolution of project delivery is here.

It’s called designer-led or engineer-led design-build. This method, though not brand new, is gaining traction in the industry because it incorporates the best of both delivery methods. Your project will move at the pace of a design-build project and it will be led by the design professional, not a contractor.

There are four big advantages to have an engineer or designer lead your design-build project.

  1. The relationship of the owner and design professional is restored to trusted adviser status. This is because the design professional stays with the project from inception to delivery (and beyond).
  2. Your schedule can still be managed because design and construction can take place concurrently. Beyond that, long lead items can be procured early, design review time can be compressed, and more.
  3. There are fewer claims and disputes and, importantly, more project cost savings because collaboration between the general contractor and design professional can be structured similarly to traditional design-build.
  4. You can not only lower construction costs, but improve life cycle costs for your project because the designer or engineer has the authority to give precedence to their design intent and the owner’s program requirements throughout the duration of your project.

Innovation drives everything. From advances in technology to social media sites like this one. And yes, even project delivery. Designer-led or engineer-led project delivery is the next step forward.