Blog

Why Do Design-Build Projects Go Wrong?

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from projects that go smoothly and according to plan and budget. But what about those projects that don’t go so well? The lessons gleaned from budget mishaps, contract issues, and first-time design-build experiences can be just as valuable. While not easily covered in 700 words or less, let’s look at a few of the reasons we have seen DB projects go wrong.

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Topics: Best Practices, Design-Build, Education.

Field Trips Aren’t Just for Kids

  San Jose Water Company (SJW) recently completed their first progressive design-build project and largest capital improvement project ever: a $50 million upgrade to the Montevina Water Treatment Plant in Los Gatos, California. The project was recently recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers San Francisco Section as the 2018 Environmental Engineering Project of the Year. During his acceptance speech at the awards banquet, Andrew Gere, President and Chief Operating Officer of SJW, said, “The success of the project was founded upon partnering developed by the owner and the design-builder.”

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Topics: HDR, Progressive Design-Build, Water Design-Build Project.

Addressing the Craft Labor Shortage

“Can we fix it? Yes, we can!” If you raised a child in the early 2000s you may be hearing the enthusiastic proclamation from the popular animated children’s series Bob the Builder echoing in your ears at this very moment. The series featured Bob, the resident builder, his partners, and a fleet of talking yellow iron. Bob the Builder was my daughter’s favorite show – her favorite character was Scoop, a backhoe loader, or an “I-Dig-Dirt,” as she called it. As a descendant of a proud line of craft laborers including legacy carpenters, crane operators, and yes, even a large backhoe operator, I entertained the thought that maybe, just maybe, my daughter might land in the construction industry, spurred by her admiration of the determined and optimistic Bob and his talking fleet of yellow iron.

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Topics: Craft Labor, Design-Build, Education, Flatiron.

Key Factors for a Successful Construction Management at-Risk (CMAR) Project: A Contractor’s Perspective

Rice Lake Construction Group, in conjunction with AE2S Engineering and the City of Watford City, successfully completed the first construction management at-risk delivery of a municipal wastewater treatment facility project in North Dakota. Below are a few items that made the project a success and a few that could have made the process better.

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Topics: Best Practices, CMAR, Rice Lake.

Design-Build Delivery Achieves Chronic Grit Accumulation Relief at Georgia’s Largest Wastewater Facility

To solve a chronic grit-removal issue plaguing the 240 MGD RM Clayton Water Reclamation Center (WRC), Georgia’s largest wastewater treatment plant, the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (City) required urgent upgrades to the headworks facility involving complete replacement of coarse screening and grit removal systems and installation of new influent flow-monitoring equipment.

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Topics: Brown and Caldwell, Fixed-Price Design-Build, Wastewater Infrastructure/Treatment.

Is Hiring a CMAR at the 30% Design Milestone Really a Best Practice? The Impact Timing has on Project Success

Being on a CMAR project is like being part of an Olympic 4 x 100 relay team. Similar to the way the countries select the fastest runners for their Olympic relay teams; as an owner you select the best design and construction teams in the industry for your project. But having the fastest runners or the best CMAR and design teams isn’t enough. All the relay runners must come together as a cohesive team and the most critical aspect of any relay race is the transition between runners. Runners must be in lock step; they must be able to adapt to each other’s speed, excitement, and timing to move the relay baton through each leg of the relay and win the race. The same holds true for a CMAR project team. As a project moves from conceptual design, detail design, construction, and finally start-up and commissioning, each handoff of the project baton must be seamless. What would happen if you waited to find your third and fourth runners until after the race had started? Undoubtedly, that would put your relay team at a major disadvantage.

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Topics: CMAR, McCarthy, Water Design-Build Project.

Does Collaborative Delivery Cost More?

For owners considering collaborative-delivery approaches for water and wastewater projects, such as progressive design-build (PDB) or construction management at-risk (CMAR), one of the biggest impediments to acceptance is the perception that the final cost of the project would be larger than a traditional design-bid-build and cannot be controlled. Based on our research, there are two primary reasons this stumbling block exists. One relates to the owner’s belief that their initial cost estimates are correct and that the project can be designed and constructed within their budget. A second, and perhaps more important issue, is that many owners still do not understand how the collaborative process evolves and how to reach a final acceptable price on the project, primarily because they are only familiar with the design-bid-build pricing process that uses the low-bid approach.

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Topics: Collaborative Delivery, Design-Build, WDBC Admin.

What Decisions are Needed to Prepare Your Organization to Use Design-Build Delivery?

The questions most often raised by utilities or agencies who want to pursue design-build delivery for their pending project range from “What are the decisions I need to make in the procurement process?” to “How do I prepare my organization to make the right decisions about the best collaborative delivery approach for my project?” Answers to these questions, which were addressed recently in an education session with a large metropolitan utility, also provide the opportunity for us to share the results of WDBC’s 2017 research on what public officials say they have learned from pursuing a design-build project.

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Topics: Design-Build, Education, WDBC Admin.

How Collaboration in a CMAR Project Successfully Delivered a Treatment Plant Expansion at UTRWD’s Riverbend Water Reclamation Plant

Upper Trinity Regional Water District’s (UTRWD) Riverbend Water Reclamation Plant (WRP), located in north central Texas near the city of Aubrey, needed to increase its capacity from 2 million gallons per day (mgd) annual average daily flow to 4 mgd with a peak flow rate of 16 mgd. This expansion was required to keep up with the economic growth occurring to the north of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In order to increase capacity, a new influent pump station, new screening and grit removal headworks, a new sludge pump station building, modification of sequential batch reactor basins to conventional aeration basins with ballasted activated sludge, and new secondary clarifiers were required.

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Topics: Carollo, CMAR, Wastewater Infrastructure/Treatment.

What’s Open-Book Pricing All About – How Does it Really Work?

(Excerpted from the Water and Wastewater Design-Build Handbook, 4th edition, and Education Program) Several of our industry’s best collaborative-delivery methods—particularly CMAR and progressive design-build—rely on an open-book process for developing cost and pricing during preconstruction. This process is used to achieve agreement on cost and then a price for the construction effort to proceed. In turn, the price is typically implemented either as a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) or a fixed-price contract provision.

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Topics: Brown and Caldwell, Collaborative Delivery, Open-Book Pricing, Progressive Design-Build.