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Selecting the Right Delivery Method — An Overview of Design-Assist

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As delivery methods continue to evolve, it’s important to step back and understand which one makes the most sense for your project. Each approach has benefits depending on the complexity of the project and objectives of the building program to be undertaken.

This is the first in a series of posts designed to help owners understand the pros and cons of the most commonly used delivery methods. We’ll begin with an examination of Design-Assist.

What is Design-Assist?

In traditional design-bid-build methodology, the contractor is brought in after the architect and engineer have completed the building plans. By contrast, Design-Assist is a collaborative, team-oriented method that capitalizes on the benefits of early engagement of all parties — including the design team, contractor and key subcontractors. The objective of this collaboration is to understand the design and constructability aspects prior to actual construction. This allows the team to mitigate potential conflicts and limit scope creep before you ever break ground.

Trust is a critical element of this method, as the owner must select the entire team before total cost for the project has been established.

Our experience has shown that this consultative approach, which leverages our extensive preconstruction services, enables us to provide ways to value engineer the best solutions for the owner.

Benefits of using Design-Assist Subcontractors

The involvement of the Design-Assist Subcontractors from project inception means they are able to provide more accurate estimates and understand the potential impact of escalation issues on the project schedule and budget. Additionally, they can aid in tracking costs and ensuring that the quality and functionality of the building are not adversely impacted.

How do you know if Design-Assist is right for your project?

While Design-Assist can be used for any project, it is generally considered most appropriate for those that are larger and more complicated versus smaller and more straightforward. Additionally, any project in which the MEP work is extensive is likely to benefit from early involvement of trade subcontractors. For instance, hospitals, large institutional facilities and complex renovations are likely to benefit from early involvement of trade subcontractors.

Design-Assist is part of a trend toward more of a collaborative team approach. However, no matter the delivery method chosen, having all parties at the table early in the process helps increase efficiency and minimize change orders—keeping the costs down and the project on schedule.

In future posts, we will continue to discuss delivery methods and the inherent benefits of each.

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