Which construction delivery system is best for your building’s renovation?

construction renovation projects, such as Design-Bid-Build, Construction Management and Design-Build. It’s important that a building owner examines the pros and cons of each in order to determine which system works best for their project goals, costs to perform, timeline and risk management.

In the Design-Bid-Build method, the owner engages entities such as the architect/engineer, designer and construction company separately. Since there is little if any connection between the different entities, this process requires a savvy owner who will be responsible for controlling all aspects of the design and construction process. One of the downfalls of this process, however, occurs if there are design errors for which the owner becomes at risk to the contractor.

The Construction Management method involves having the overall planning and coordinating of the construction project fall to one single entity. In this method some of the risk is transferred from the owner to the construction manager. The disadvantage of this method is that sometimes there can be a conflict of interest as in many cases the contractor serves as the construction manager and project transparencies can be jeopardized as a result.

A single entity controls all aspects of project delivery in the Design Build method. This entity is responsible for the architect, engineer, interior designer, contracted services and holds all parties responsible through the duration of the project. This method can streamline the schedule as well as reduce overall costs. One of the downsides of this method is that the owner has little control over the design and/or construction process and there could be limited risk transfer.

Even with the different methods of project delivery, the old adage “it takes a village” still can and should apply in the construction renovation process. That old saying is not just conducive as it relates to how sometimes whole communities extend their support in raising the children of that community, but it can also apply when speaking of construction delivery systems and the importance of valued partners of a renovation project. The successful completion of a renovation project can’t fall entirely on one entity, but instead on combined efforts from several entities working in tandem whose common goal is to ensure the project is completed on time, on budget and without compromising the owners’ design intent. And although the planning may in fact begin with the owner and the owner’s architectural representative, evidence has shown that involving all renovation partners early on is fundamental to ensuring a project is completed efficaciously.

Working in tandem with the owner, architect, designer and general contractor is not just efficient, but helps eliminate costs overruns as a result of unforeseen problems in the design, provides easy and timely access to materials and furnishings, and simply put, allows for sharing thought-provoking methods of accomplishing the common goal of a successful project, which should be inherent in every team member.

In the typical Design-Bid-Build process, an owner engages an architect during the concept phase to help plan out the property’s improvement. The architect, after visiting the property and communicating with the owner to understand the design intent, will provide drawings based not solely on the design intent, but will also need to consider some of the pre-renovation assessments of the building’s property. Once these drawings are developed, a selected interior designer is brought in to help further bring the picture into focus, so to speak.

The main role of the designer is to create an appealing, functional space based on the owner’s design intent and preliminary architectural drawings. The selected designer will take measurements, suggest furnishings, color pallets, fabrics and materials. After these selections have been incorporated into the architectural drawings, the architect usually develops bid documents and then invites general contractors to bid, thus acting as the owner’s representative at that point.

Although the general contractor’s major role is to perform the scope of the work, it should be kept in mind that the more accomplished contractor has years of experience, knows the hills and the valleys; the ins and the outs of a renovation project and therefore can provide vital input during the planning stages. Once familiar with the drawings and the design intent, a good contractor knows where to look and expose any of the pitfalls early on before that wall is even opened.

It’s also important that the selected contractor is knowledgeable and aware of any situation that could cause shipment delays of materials or products. Oftentimes contractors will either have other resources for redirecting the shipments or can even suggest other materials and products that can be used instead where timely delivery is not an issue and the design intent is not compromised.

Services for procurement and purchasing of materials, furnishings, etc. should be decided early on in the planning stages. The procurement team should be one experienced in managing this very critical process having a good understanding of the design intent and possessing good communication skills to be able to coordinate deliverables with project team members.

Typically, the designer is responsible for the ordering and purchasing of the materials and furnishings. It’s becoming more of a trend, however, to make this part of the general contractor’s responsibility. Doing so has several advantages. It’s easier for the contractor to coordinate deliveries and delivery methods as the contractor is on site every day, knows what space is available to house material until needed, what elevators are available to get the materials to designated areas, what manpower is needed for the deliveries, etc.

Another factor for considering the general contractor to provide the procurement services, is it helps to eliminate any construction claims. Most general contractors employ a storekeeper who’s responsible for receiving and verifying that deliverables are exactly what was ordered, is received in the correct description, color, quantity and is not damaged. Any variations to the order are immediately recorded and reported and replacements ordered expeditiously as not to stall the project.

Since most general contractors do not self-perform all aspects of the renovation project, an essential element of a good general contractor is one who utilizes teams of highly skilled and licensed subcontractors to carry out the various aspects of the project scope. The subcontractor team’s mission of providing the best service possible should be lock-step to that of the general contractor.

Determining the method of project delivery is as essential as determining your renovation partners, keeping in mind that regardless of the delivery method selected, for completely successful results having all entities work together cohesively is of great importance.