New Research: Design-Build Saves Time and Money, Improves Project Quality

Satisfaction SurveyAccording to the results of the newly released 2012 Municipal Owners Customer Satisfaction Survey of Water Design-Build Projects, the vast majority of municipalities across the United States are satisfied with their use of design-build (DB) and construction management-at-risk (CMAR) project delivery methods; and, nearly all plan to use these methods again for future water and wastewater projects. The Survey was commissioned by the Water Design-Build Council.

“The results of this survey confirm what the members of the Water Design-Build Council have experienced at the project level,” commented Water Design-Build Council President and CDM Smith Vice President Pat Gallagher. “Design-Build and CMAR deliver real results for municipalities in terms of cost savings, project quality, and overall efficiency.”

The objective of the 2012 Municipal Owners Satisfaction Survey is to gauge the level of satisfaction that owners have experienced from using design-build or CMAR delivery approaches for water and wastewater infrastructure projects. The survey was emailed to 455 individuals and followed up with reminder phone calls. Survey participants were primarily managers and members of the project staff of local and regional governmental units (such as utilities, municipalities, and water/wastewater districts), as well as a few policy-makers. More than a third (34%)—from 15 different states—responded.

The major findings of the research include:

  • The vast majority of respondents are satisfied with their use of DB and CMAR delivery—with high levels of satisfaction for design involvement, project quality, and the communication process that occurred.
  • Nearly all (91%) state they will use DB and CMAR delivery again.
  • Respondents indicate that the major impediments to the broader use of DB or CMAR delivery include lack of familiarity with the process, owners’ perception of risk, and resistance to change.
  • A large majority (82%) agree that the use of DB and CMAR delivery results in fewer claims and disputes during the construction phase of projects.
  • An even greater number (89%) state that the use of innovative ideas saves money, time and improves quality.
  • Respondents also expressed significant satisfaction with the transition to operation of projects when using DB and CMAR delivery.
  • Among the top reasons owners give for using DB and CMAR delivery are the advantages of keeping projects on schedule, achieving better quality and controlling costs.
  • A majority of respondents report using a two-step procurement process (an RFQ to generate a short list, followed by an RFP) and to select a firm based on best value (evaluating both non-price and price factors).

Overall, the data confirms that the use of DB and CMAR delivery enables owners to achieve quality projects by employing innovative practices that result in timely schedules and cost-effective methods. Given the many benefits and positive experiences reported, it is expected that the use of DB and CMAR delivery will continue to increase.

The Survey was performed by Drs. Pramen P. Shrestha and Jacimaria Batista of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Construction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in partnership with The Cannon Survey Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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