With a rise in use of collaborative delivery, owners have begun finding ways to make the process easier and reduce stressful oversight on their end. Collaborative delivery methods are often complex with multiple contractors and moving pieces as part of the day-to-day tasks. Because of this complexity, owners may be hesitant to transition from design-bid-build given their unfamiliarity. That’s where an owner advisor comes in.
An owner advisor (OA) is a third-party firm responsible for providing support to the owner during design and construction. Collaborative delivery methods are typically used under strict time constraints, and the early selection of an OA can help flush out project details while maintaining project integrity for both the owner and staff. Cost effectiveness is an integral part of projects under a collaborative delivery method. The OA can help review deliverables and keep the project on course by identifying potential impacts on project goals and mitigating their effect.
Having an OA with savvy construction and operations staff helps to coordinate critical cost savings, sequencing, and commissioning of facilities. Depending on whether the OA is brought in early or later in the project can make a huge difference as well. For the City of Pflugerville, Garver was brought on earlier in project development to help procure the design engineer and develop design criteria that was essential to project success. When an OA is brought on later in a project, their role mostly focuses on managing workload, technical oversight, and maintaining clear communication between all parties.
The role of maintaining communication lines is extremely important to collaborative delivery. These types of projects typically have multiple designers and contractors, often many of them on site all at once. The OA’s focus at those times is to assist the owner with keeping up to date on project status and requirements and making sure project goals are maintained at each step. Additionally, the OA provides thorough support with federal funding compliance through reviews, funding management, and tracking.
The OA role has become a valuable addition to collaborative delivery projects, letting the owner feel assured that their project is moving according to their schedule, meeting their needs and requirements, and overall running seamlessly between all involved parties.
A current example is Garver’s OA work on the Wichita Northwest Water Treatment Facility. The City of Wichita is proceeding with a progressive design-build program to implement a new greenfield 120-mgd water treatment facility that includes large-diameter conveyance pipelines and a blend of water sources, which consists of surface water, shallow alluvial groundwater, and aquifer storage and recovery supply.
After reviewing design plans, Garver was able to identify an alternative to significantly reduce costs for the treatment train. The original design included a treatment train for each water source, but Garver’s alternative created one singular robust treatment train for all sources. This alternative saved the client $20M in construction costs. Additionally, other value engineering and design optimization modifications saved more construction costs and, to this day, Garver’s OA services have saved the City of Wichita over $100M in costs.