The main thing you need to understand about the different project delivery methods is that they’re all different in their own unique way.
So what is a construction project delivery method?
The project delivery method details the relationship between the parties involved with the project—typically a contractor, owner, and designer—as well as how and when these parties will fulfill their obligations and responsibilities.
In other words, the project delivery method helps determine the processes of the planning, design, and building phases of construction.
But before we explore the various project delivery methods in greater detail, let’s quickly recap the primary goals involved with the delivery of construction projects:
- Managing expectations regarding timelines and costs
- Managing contingencies and risks
- Coordinating resources
- Ensuring quality control
We’re going to cover the common project delivery methods that you should know as a contractor, including:
- Design-Bid-Build (DBB)
- Design-Build (DB)
- Construction Management Multi-Prime (CMMP)
- Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs)
- Construction Managers at Risk (CMAR)
- Job Order Contracting (JOC)
- Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)
Often referred to as “traditional project delivery,” DBB is the most common project delivery method used—involving a design team and a general contractor working (under separate contracts) directly for the project owner.
With the DBB method, the design team works with the project owner to develop the contract documents—including drawings, specifications, and other models. Once completed, the design is sent to general contractors to provide a bid for the project.
And once the general contractors submit their bids, the project owner—with the help of the design team—evaluates the proposals and make their selection.
And, finally—once the contract is signed—equipment and materials are ordered so that construction can begin.
Advantages of DBB:
- Usually has low initial costs
- Most contractors and project owners are experienced with this method
- Separating the design team from the construction team potentially reduces conflicts of interest
Disadvantages of DBB:
- Because the contractor and architect don’t collaborate during the design phase, discrepancies can occur as a result
With the DB method, the designer and contractor are replaced by a single party—referred to as a “design-builder”—who is typically an architect, engineer, or contractor. And this design-builder will serve as the single contact to the project owner throughout the entire project.
The DB method begins with a project owner, who—after drafting an initial project design—requests project proposals from various design-builders.
After the project owner choses a proposal, the design-builder’s team can secure permits and begin construction.
Advantages of DB:
- Both more affordable and efficient due to the collaboration between the design and construction teams
- Simplifies the entire process into a single agreement—improving communication for the owner
Disadvantages of DB:
- Not as common as the DBB method so some project owners and contractors may lack experience with this method
- Because so much responsibility lies with the design-builder, the project could potentially suffer from a poorly-chosen design-builder
- Conflicts of interest may arise between the project owner—who wants quality—and the contractor—who wants low costs
Construction Management Multi-Prime (CMMP)
With the CMMP method, the project owner acts a general contractor—taking responsibility for design details and overseeing the plans and specs of the project.
Suitable for project owners who have experience managing construction projects, CMMP is ideal for project owners who want to retain control.
Advantages of CMMP:
- The designer and contractors work directly for the owner, which may improve project speed and efficiency
- Subcontractors have direct contract with the owner, which may improve the payment process
Disadvantages of CMMP:
- An inexperienced project owner will likely cost the project time and money
- Because of the increased amount of individual contracts with this method, two issues may arise—the overall budget can be challenging to monitor, and the multiple contracts may cause confusion between the various contractors
Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs)
The US Department of Transportation defines PPP (or P3) partnerships as “a long term contractual agreement between a public agency and a private entity to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain an infrastructure project.”
With PPP projects, government agencies represent the public partner at a local, state, or national level—and the private partner is typically a privately-owned business or public corporation.
Generally appropriate for large and complex transportation projects, PPPs can cover a range of projects across various sectors, including—but not limited to—transportation, power and energy, water and wastewater, and education.
Advantages of PPPs:
- Access to private sector finance and skills
- PPPs are usually protected by bonds—ensuring that all parties working on the project will be paid
- Potentially increased transparency
Disadvantages of PPPs:
- PPPs require considerable administrative cost and time to develop, analyze, procure, and monitor
- Government changes in policies and interfering circumstances—like Covid-19, for example—can impact projects
- It is difficult to determine the appropriate level of return on investment for the private sector