One of the major items often misunderstood on a construction project is the delivery method. Traditional project delivery methods include design-bid-build, design-build and Construction Management.
Historically, the design-bid-build process has been the most common project delivery method for large scale commercial projects. Under this delivery method, the owner holds separate contracts between the design professionals and the construction team. This delivery method is most common amongst publicly-funded projects. The design team (including traditional building architects, landscape architects, MEP engineers, structural engineers and aquatic design professionals) works directly for the owner to develop a set of construction documents. These documents are then used to create a competitive bidding environment between multiple vendors, manufacturers and suppliers.
The teaming circumstances between the design professionals and the installing contractor are different under the design-build scenario. Under this delivery method, the design-build team is led by the building contractor. The design professionals are then contracted through the building contractor, thus providing the owner with a single point of contact for both the project design and construction.
In design-build, the contractor traditionally works with the owner on the development of a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) based upon partially-developed plans. Design-build can, under certain circumstances, provide opportunities to expedite the overall project schedule. The owner should request that GMP drawings be as complete as possible, and participate in the development of the GMP package to minimize surprises with the pool and any support buildings. While initial construction costs can sometimes be reduced through a design-build process, the owner must be wary of cost-cutting measures that can decrease the lifespan of the facility and increase yearly operational cost, both of which are bad for the owner of the facility.
In the Construction Management project delivery method, the owner typically holds separate contracts with the construction manager, the design professional, and in some cases, the installing contractors. Construction management can either be performed “at-risk” or “not-at-risk.” When not-at-risk, the construction management agency (CM) typically becomes the owner’s representative by managing the project from the back end of design through construction. In this scenario, the CM does not directly hold a contract with any specific contractor. When at-risk, the CM typically commits to a GMP prior to construction and acts as not only the owner’s representative, but somewhat equivalent to a general contractor during construction. If the owner does not possess knowledge or experience in construction projects, the inclusion of a CM in some fashion can benefit the overall process for the entire team.
Once you have chosen your preferred project delivery method, it's time to think about the process for selecting your design and/or construction professionals. Several tools are available to assist owners when determining the best team to help create the desired facility. These include Letters of Interest, Requests for Qualifications (RFQ), Requests for Proposals (RFP), and the Interview process. These tools can help determine the proper team who will create and manage the project from start to finish.