In today’s market, Owners are faced with a myriad of choices in delivery methods for their projects. Project and Program Managers are charged with advising Owners and managing the design and construction process, while implementing the best and most appropriate delivery method for each project. We are seeing a clear trend toward more collaborative, innovative approaches, often involving a “Project Team” early in the design process. One such approach, the Design-Assist Model, has multiple advantages and yet doesn’t drift too far from the more traditional approach making it a very popular method in a variety of markets.
So, what is Design/assist?
Design-Assist is a project delivery method in which the construction team (General contractor and/or key subcontractors and trades) is engaged by the owner early in the design phase to collaborate with the engineer and architect. By contrast, with a traditional Design-Bid-Build approach, the construction team does not see the drawings and specs until they have been finalized by the architect and engineer. It is only then that suggestions, value-engineering options, concerns and problems arise. Often times with this traditional approach the owner and project team miss out on the benefit of the expertise the specialized trade contractors can offer, making it more expensive to address fabrication issues and impacting the overall schedule of the project.
What are the advantages of Design/assist?
By engaging the Construction Team early, an Owner gains:
- A better understanding of the budget by having access to preconstruction services of the key trades early.
- A more streamlined schedule by having the ability to identify critical path issues and equipment procurement lead times.
- Improved quality by allowing for the creation of a more accurate pre-fabrication plan.
- Cost savings as the engineer and contractors are working together in the design phase of the project.
- Improved Safety as the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems can be fabricated off site, allowing for swifter, safer installation on site.
We at McKenney’s are certainly seeing an increasingly large number of projects adopt the Design-Assist model. With one coordinated group effort, the entire project team and the owner can deliver a better product in a more timely, cost-effective and safer environment.
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