Yet Another Project Delivery Method?

Back To Articles

May 14, 2021



By Ryan King

Another project delivery method?  Not exactly.  We coined a term for a methodology on a recent project our team completed that does not follow any project delivery method’s exact path.  It is a little bit of design build, design assist, traditional design bid build, and integrated project delivery.  One might ask why you would do something like this?  Well, at the owner’s request, of course!  The second question you might want to ask is what enables something like this to be feasible?  TRUST

This hybrid methodology was done for a project within the last year and is believed to be a successful project for all involved.  The key ingredient for the success was a unique trust matrix.  Trust, as you may already know, does not always inherently exist on projects.  That matrix included trust between the owner/design team, the owner/contractor, the design team/contractor and their subconsultants, and the contractor/subconsultants.  It was not so much a matrix as it was a web of trust where all parties connected.  Trust at every level and every connection does not always exist on a project.   But when partners consistently work together on project after project, trust becomes inherent because the success of each organization involved is at stake.

So why do something like this?

It all started as a way to save the owner costs – surprise, right?  And then it evolved into something much more significant.  It enabled savings on front-end design costs, plus design and construction schedule savings.  And, yes, we took less fee for a project with less scope. This provided more trust in the owner and partners to stick to their end of the bargain.

To achieve this methodology, the project had to be broken into several parts as it related to scope.  The project was split into fully designed, partially designed/design assist, and design build by the general contractor’s subcontractors.  The design build portion was unique because it was not limited to the typical mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection disciplines we see on most projects; it also included casework and some interior finishes.

With the fully designed areas, the design team completed full user meetings and design drawings.  For design assist areas, criteria were given, and a general layout was provided.  The contractors had to connect the parts.  For the design build areas, the work was noted to be by others.  In addition to the team’s overall trust, the owner needed to have clear sets of design standards, which they follow rigorously. The entire contracting and design team also followed those standards with the same amount of rigger.

What were the results?

It is always hard to compare projects because no two are the same.  But for this comparison, we had two very similar projects with a similar service type in the same building on the same campus with the same owner and the same contractors and same design team.  The difference between the first project, which was completed through design and then negotiated bid to the hybrid delivery, resulted in a design schedule savings of 5 months and construction schedule savings of 5  months.    A savings of 17% on the design costs were also a result of the second project—a total savings of 10 months plus some dollars in the owner’s pocket.

Was it mentioned, the hybrid delivery methodology was performed on a healthcare project in the patient care service area? It was, and the project went through an extensive review by a state agency without issue and met all regulations and standards without any delays or changes in scope.

What is the lesson learned?

With a great deal of trust and consistent partners from the owner, design team, and contractors, you can deliver a highly successful project in a highly regulated and technical market and bring significant savings to an owner.  Traditional workflow and methods do not have to stand in the way of delivering scope in a multitude of ways on the same project.

Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn to continue the conversation, here.