At the Annual International Municipal Lawyers Conference in Austin, Texas this week, those of us participating in a panel discussion on IMLA’s Construction Contract Drafting Initiative (CCDI) were somewhat surprised to learn just how many city attorney’s in the audience had clients who were using the design/build procurement method on their projects. Of those who indicated that design/build was being used by their clients, some were using AIA forms, others were using DBIA forms, and yet others were using custom contract forms.
The CCDI will focus initially on providing the membership with certain provisions or forms to be used in traditional design/bid/build projects. However, if there is enough interest, design/build forms could follow.
One purpose of this blog post is to solicit from any readers comments on the criteria and rationale behind their client’s decision to use a design/build method. Please feel free to comment with the types of projects for which the design/build method was chosen as well.
Another purpose of this post is to offer my thoughts on the use of design/build. Design/build is a very useful procurement method when time is of the essence in bringing a project from concept to completion. The design/build method allows an owner the opportunity to coordinate design and construction through one contractor/designer team. This joint venture or dual-purpose company, if you will, makes coordination easier for an owner as there is only one entity with whom you must do business. A key benefit to design/build is expediency. In its infancy, the design/build method was touted as a way to deliver a project faster than a traditional design/bid/build project because construction could begin before all the design selections were complete. Being able to start on the foundation and structural elements of a project while still determining selections for finish out and interior fixtures could save significant time for an owner. This rationale is as true today as it was when design/build first started to gain popularity.
In sum, for public owners in jurisdictions that allow design/build as an alternative procurement method, that delivery system can provide significant benefits. However, be aware that design/build is not right for every project. An owner should consider how important price, time, project coordination, and allocation of risk, among other considerations, are to it before choosing to go with a design/build project.