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Design Assist and the Benefits of Early Involvement of the Construction Manager

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The construction process has been the same for centuries: design the building, bid the construction, and then build the building—also known as Design-Bid-Build (DBB). But with the evolution of technology, the construction industry has been rethinking this process and finding ways to improve it. Many shortcomings of DBB are being overcome with a delivery method called Design Assist, which involves the Construction Manager from the beginning of the project.

Shortcomings of Design-Bid-Build

With DBB, the construction process is very linear. First, the Owner hires an Architect to design the building. Then the Owner bids the already designed project out to contactors. Most of the time, the lowest bid wins the project and the contractor prepares to build the building.

However, with this delivery method, some problems can arise. Sometimes the design ends up being too expensive to build and the Owner is put in a difficult place. The Owner either has to find more money, or the building has to be redesigned. Because of this, the budget and schedule can be compromised.

In addition, most times the Owner chooses the lowest bid for a project, but doesn’t realize that it’s probably not what they are actually going to pay. Almost inevitably there are change orders during the construction phase, which can cause the project to go over budget and push the schedule back.

Design Assist provides additional value to the Owner

Design Assist is a delivery method that brings all of the different parties involved in a project together at the beginning of the project. It is what it sounds like: the Construction Manager assisting during the design phase of the project. With this delivery method, the Owner receives the benefit of having multiple experts at the table at the beginning.

In Design Assist, the Construction Manager adds value to the Owner by providing price checks consistently as the Architect is designing the building. This ensures that the project stays on budget, and on schedule by mitigating risk and minimizing (or eliminating) the need for change orders as issues are detected and discussed during this planning phase.

Other preconstruction services that the Construction Manager can offer are:

  • Constructability reviews
  • Cost models
  • Schedule development
  • Analyzing proposed systems
  • Risk mitigation
  • Risk in early concepts

Having the Construction Manager involved during the design phase eliminates many of the shortcomings discussed previously. By performing constructability reviews and price checks along the way, the Owner doesn’t have to worry about the design being too expensive to build. And the Owner has certainty that the team is designing and planning a building that can actually be built and will work for the budget.

Finding the right Design Assist team

Design Assist can also work for almost any project—small or big, simple or complex. However, the Owner needs the right team in place in order for it to be effective. It’s important that the Architect and the Construction Manager both have experience with Design Assist. Both parties need to be able to work together and collaborate throughout the project to bring the best outcome for the Owner. If everyone is on the same page from the beginning, this will set the stage for a seamless transition from design to build.

The ultimate success of a project hinges on the planning that occurs long before groundbreaking. With Design Assist, the Owner, Architect and Construction Manager can mitigate risk, address unforeseen issues and provide cost and schedule certainty—creating another success story for all.

If you’re interested in learning more about Hourigan’s approach to Design Assist, please contact us.

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