The most successful design-build (DB) and construction management at-risk (CMAR) projects begin with a well planned procurement process that is based on the owners’s objectives, expectations and clearly-identified priorities. Individually or together, these attributes can affect the duration and complexity of the procurement process, as well as its cost. For a successful procurement process, an owner must have knowledge of state and local regulations and must provide a clear statement of the project’s requirements, as well as a draft contract that includes terms, selection criteria and schedule. Clearly conveying this information in a transparent process minimizes unnecessary expenditures of time and resources for both the owner and potential design-build or CMAR firms.
Here are some overarching guidelines to facilitate a successful design-build or CMAR procurement.
- Determine which project-delivery method to use – fixed-price or progressive design-build, or CMAR – and whether project requirements will be performance-based, prescriptive, or a combination.
- Seek the advice of other owners who have conducted design-build or CMAR procurements, in addition to obtaining appropriate legal and financial guidance.
- Determine whether, and to what extent, the design-build or CMAR firm will be allowed to self-perform (often the result of state laws that reflect the balance of influence among owners, general contractors, and subcontractors).
- Complete, and make available to respondents, any work related to permitting, environmental impacts, and site geotechnical investigations.
- Clearly describe the scope of services, project requirements (including desired LEED certification level, if applicable), and desired level of owner involvement and control.
- Issue a draft contract early in the procurement process to gain insight from prospective respondents. Present the schedule, selection criteria and process, and communication protocols to be used in the procurement process.
- Assemble, and include in procurement documents as appropriate, a reasonable draft contract that equitably addresses and allocates risks to the party best suited to control or absorb them.
- If shared savings between the owners and delivery firm(s) will be allowed, include appropriate provisions in the contract. Keep the contract language clear and format uncomplicated – avoiding unnecessary complexity that can reduce participation, create delays, or increase costs.