The traditional process of design and construction and the roles and responsibilities of the various parties need not be changed when fast track, an accelerated design and construction process, is required. However, this process can affect scheduling and personnel assignments.
In the traditional process, the entire facility moves phase by phase through the entire development process, that is, programming, design, design development, construction documents, bid and award of contracts, construction and acceptance of completed project (Art. 2.7). With any form of accelerated design and construction, the final phases remain substantially the same, but the various building systems or subsystems move through the development process at different times and result in the release of multiple construction contracts at various times throughout the process.
For any project, basic building siting is determined early in the design process. Therefore, at an early stage in design, a construction contract can be awarded for demolition and excavation work. Similarly, basic structural decisions can be made before all details of the building are established. This permits early award of foundation, below grade utility work, and structural work contracts. Under such circumstances, construction can be initiated early in the design process, rather than at the conclusion of a lengthy design and contract preparation period. Months and even years can be taken out of the traditional project schedule, depending on the scale and complexity of the project. Purchase of pre-engineered, commercially available building systems can be integrated into the accelerated design and construction process when standard system techniques are employed, reducing time even more.
The major requirements for a project in which design and construction occur simultaneously are
• Accurate cost management to maintain project budgets.
• Full understanding of the construction process by the client, contractor, and design professionals so that design decisions and contract documents for each building system or subsystem can be completed in a professional manner that addresses the requirements of the ongoing construction process.
• Organized and efficient management of the construction process with feedback into the design process to maintain a clear definition of the required contract packages and schedule.
• Overall project cost control and project construction responsibilities, including interface management of independent prime contracts, should also be established.
Often the major purpose of accelerated design and construction is to reduce the effect of rapidly increasing construction costs and inflation over the extended project design and construction period. For projects extending over several years, for example, contractors and subcontractors have to quote costs for providing material and labour that may be installed several years later. In most cases, the costs associated with such work are uncertain. Bid prices for such work, especially when it is of large magnitude, therefore, must be conservative. Accelerated design and construction, however, brings all the financial benefits of a shortened project duration and early occupancy and reduces the impact of cost escalation. Also, bid prices can be closer to the actual costs, thus reducing bidding risk to the contractor. The combination of phased bidding shortened contract duration, reduced escalation, smaller bid packages, and a greater number of bidders can produce substantial savings in overall construction costs.
A major objection to accelerated design and construction is that project construction is initiated before bids are obtained for the total project and assurance is secured that the total project budget can be maintained. In this regard, the reliability of early cost estimating becomes even more critical. It is the experience of most clients and architects involved with multiple contracts, however, that such contracts, bid one at a time, can be readily compared with a total budget line item or trade breakdown and thus provide safeguards against budget overruns. The ability to design, bid, and negotiate each contract as a separate entity provides optimum cost control.
For accelerated design and construction programs to work effectively, services of a professional construction manager are normally required. This cost, however, can be offset by the overall saving in the total project cost due to the reduction in construction time.
Normally, the client is responsible for entering into the various construction contracts when multiple contracts are used. The construction manager acts as the client’s agent in administration of the contracts. If the architect is to administer the contracts, additional compensation will be required beyond that associated with one general contractor who holds all subcontracts, as is the case in the traditional client contractor relationship.