Design-Build Delivery: Not Just for ‘Big’ Water Projects

Quite often, many of the examples of publicized projects about design-build delivery are larger projects – which is not always an accurate representation of what is going on in the industry. For instance, a few months ago, I was partaking in my normal perusing of Google alerts for online items relating to projects in the water sector, when I spotted an intriguing newspaper headline from a small Ohio village.

The headline proclaimed that this village’s elected officials had canceled an ongoing project with a design-build contractor falsely representing their work in the water sector — which was really vertical construction.

Village officials also disputed the contractor’s invoice, as the work that was being done was not water industry specific. The good news is that additional research about the project revealed updated news accounts, reporting that during the dispute process the village’s manager had taken a bold step to educate both herself and the council members about design-build delivery methods, specifically for the water sector. The article also announced that the village had contracted with a Water Design-Build Council member firm to support it in its work and has since chosen progressive design-build project delivery and to learn more about the practice of a guaranteed maximum price.

The important takeaway here is education. By simply educating decision makers about the best practices involved in this line of work, a bad situation can be successfully inverted. In turn, there is greater support to change from the use of design-bid-build to a new practice.

Through the educating process, the village manager demonstrated that in a collaborative delivery setting, and by encouraging openness as pricing evolves, everyone understands what services the design-builder will provide and what equipment will be used. This approach minimizes the likelihood of unpleasant surprises down the road and a guarantees a project is better able to achieve a successful means to an end.

While it is unfortunate that the village was initially involved with a “non-water DB” firm, the proven steps the village manager pursued to educate decision makers about collaborative delivery should be applauded.

It is also a learning experience and important message to other towns and villages: Pursuing the use of collaborative delivery to achieve successful results is not just for “large” water or wastewater projects, but holds true for smaller projects to see these rewarding results as well.

 

About Linda Hanifin Bonner, Ph.D, Executive Operations Manager of Water Design-Build Council

With nearly 30 years of experience in the water/wastewater industry, Linda Hanifin Bonner provides a unique blend of organization, governance, and financial management experience to the Water Design-Build Council. Dr. Hanifin Bonner’s professional career has been dedicated to developing pragmatic and strategic oriented approaches through education to the factors influencing water and wastewater industry projects. Originally an environmental planner for Montgomery County, MD, her work over the years has been supporting federal, state, and local government agencies, the engineering community, and private industry.
Topics: Collaborative Project Delivery, Design-Build, Education, WDBC Admin.

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