04 Jan Thoughts on Using Performance-Based Criteria in Design-Build Construction

Early in December, I had the opportunity to work on a project charrette with a group of other design and construction professionals.  A strict timeline had been proposed for the nine-figure project we were reviewing. Among the strategies offered was the switch from traditional design-bid-build (DBB) delivery to design-build (DB).  My task was to compile a list of recommendations in support of the switch to a DB approach.

My first stop for background research was the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA).  Their web site at www.dbia.org outlines the simplified contractual relationships involved as well as some of the positive cost and schedule impacts that can be achieved.

Markon Solutions is a specialist on DB projects, especially within the context of Program Management Offices (PMOs) for large construction projects, so we also had some real-world experience to contribute.  After completing a high-level schedule review, we decided our recommendation should focus on incorporating performance-based criteria into the DB solicitation:

  • Coordinate efforts of the DB designer with vendors and subcontractors to minimize duplicate work
  • Specify timeframes for resolving matters requiring clarifying discussions
  • Designate a single point of authority for decision-making
  • Allow for timely incorporation of construction efficiencies into the design

An often-used justification for the DB approach is that it can potentially shorten construction timelines. While it can be a challenge to achieve these savings, Markon has successfully helped some clients to do just that, so we offered a couple of additional criteria:

  • Provide a risk management strategy for potential work interruptions
  • Sequence the work to optimize the schedule

Finally, and essential for achieving great results with DB, we thought the prospective DB contractor should be challenged to show how they could balance an early construction start concurrently with detailed engineering – and do it while limiting the potential for downstream requests for equitable adjustments to the contract.

In part, owners choose the DB strategy to foster innovation on their project, but there is also value to be gained from teamwork and collaboration – especially when it comes to cost, schedule, and risk.  Managing these aspects of projects is a key part of Markon’s PMO approach, and that’s a lesson we hope our value engineering client took away from this charrette!

Jim Turner

Jim Turner is a Director with Markon Solutions and is responsible for leading the Facilities Solution consulting practice, which supports the real property and facilities life-cycle, including planning, design, construction, and operations and maintenance. Over a span of 18 years, he has managed more than 90 projects, sized from a few thousand to millions of square feet. His unique approach seeks alignment of the real property assets with business strategy to provide optimal support to core business processes. He’s in demand as a speaker and writer on facilities management and real estate trends and process. Mr. Turner earned an MBA from the University of Southern California and a BA in Economics from the University of South Florida.