Guiding Principles of Risk Allocation: 4
4. Bridging the Design/Build Gap
The use of the design/build delivery system has grown significantly in recent years, both in private and public sector projects. The design/build process is characterized by a single source of project responsibility by an entity that is responsible for both the design and construction component of the project. There is also usually a single point of communication between the owner and the design builder.
The design/build process reduces the potential for argument regarding the source of construction problems being either design or construction, as a single entity is responsible for both. The design/build delivery system is usually employed to procure design/build contractors with particular areas of expertise.
Some of the problems associated with design/build project delivery include the fact that the owner loses control over the design and a "gap" is generated between the owner's objectives and the design process run by the design/builder. In addition, the design portion of the design/build firm participation is often based on price, rather than on superior design qualifications and expertise.
In the design/build process, there is less competition in the selection and award phases as the owner is often required to compare "apples and oranges" in order to choose a contractor, since differing proposals often differ in their interpretation of what the significant project design and/or performance parameters are. The process often becomes a competition in under design.
In addition, the final design/build product is often a mixture of owner/contractor objectives and interpretations that may fail to meet the original project criteria. Lastly, the owner is often left to choose from several completely different proposals, none of which is 100% satisfactory.
In order to correct these problems indigenous to the design/build process, the use of an owner's consultant is proposed to bridge the gap between the owner and the design process, without losing the advantages of the design/build delivery system.
The benefits to be derived from having a bridging consultant, include the fact that the owner retains control of the portions of the design that are usually of more importance to him, and usually includes the conceptual and schematic design phases. Through his own consultant, the owner maintains direct communication with the design process. The bridging consultant can be selected by the owner taking the consultant's qualifications into account.
The conceptual and schematic designs benefit as the goals and objectives of the owner will be properly translated. In other words, the existence of a conceptual design which is more compatible with the owner's objectives will result in proposals from design/build contractors that are easier to compare and select, taking price, design, materials, technical solutions and future operating costs into consideration.