project delivery methods for architects and town planners

Top project delivery methods for architects and city planners

There are several ways in which architect project delivery is organised. Depending on your chosen method, there will be different milestones, stakeholders, responsible people, and communication patterns.

As an architect or a city planner, you will always have a say in the early stages of the project. Most private clients would want you to suggest the best project delivery method. That is why you need to know all the pros and cons of the methods and be aware of what will fit better in each case.

Knowing where you stand in each model to organise your work effectively matters to you as an architect or a city planner. As we wrote previously, in the eyes of a private client, you are the one who’s primarily responsible for the project’s success or failure, no matter if we are talking about something you are directly responsible for or things outside of your control.

Let’s go over the top architecture and construction project delivery methods and explain where the pros and cons of each one of them lie.

Design-Bid-Build (DBB) project delivery method

This is the most common and the most universal project delivery method, used predominantly in budget-sensitive and non-urgent projects. Traditionally the design-bid-build method is used in public construction projects.

Three stages of the project follow one another. First, the designer reports directly to the project owner, and the project is awarded to the lowest bidder who responds.

Pros of the DBB method: it’s cheap and straightforward, and most stakeholders are accustomed to it, but that’s about it.

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As for the cons of the Design-Bid-Build – they are multi-faceted. First, signing up for the cheapest contractors puts quality at risk. Second, introducing changes to the design is a problem since you’d need to re-run bidding to establish the new price (and possibly a new builder!). Third, the relations between all the parties are adversarial, and such projects are often stressful to work on. Finally, the owner has to manage both the designer and the builder.

Multi-prime project delivery method

This method is based on the owner controlling a set of separate speciality contractors rather than one. This is suitable for experienced project-owning entities that want complete control of all stages of construction performed by independent contractors.

Design-Build (DB)

This project delivery method typically demands larger budgets because the owner of the project manages just one entity that does both the design and the construction.

There is only one contract and one point of responsibility. 

Considering all the advantages of the Design-Build method, it’s growing in popularity rapidly.

As for the disadvantages of the design-build method – not all project owners are sophisticated enough to validate their concept, understand if the pricing is correct, and generally be confident in their own decisions. If the project owner needs a “second opinion”, the design-build model won’t get it because one party is responsible for the design and implementation.

Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR)

This model engages another third party – the construction manager (either a person or a company) that oversees all contractors to complete the project within the timeframe – and within the guaranteed maximum price. 

This model is great for projects requiring maximum complexity and multi-disciplinary team management. The CMAR is the project owner’s go-to entity, and the only downside is that projects implemented based on this model end up costing more.

Integrated Project Delivery

This is one of the newest project delivery methods that leverage the expertise of several professions for maximum project results and cost optimisation. In the integrated project delivery, the owner picks an architect, an engineer, and a construction manager (these can either be individuals or companies), and they define project goals, objectives, and timeline before the project’s actual start.

Integrated project delivery is excellent for private and flexible projects primarily undefined. Cooperation of all parties will help achieve the best costs for the project and make sure the construction is practical and based on cooperation.

Job Order Contracting (JOC)

This project delivery method often referred to as the Master Construction Agreement, is for long-term, indefinite-delivery / indefinite-quantity projects. At the start of the project, the master agreement is drawn, and it contains the Construction Task Catalogue (CTC) with all the possessive services, tasks, and prices for them.

Owners who complete many construction projects every year use the Job Order Contracting model because it gives them access to construction services whenever needed, rather than taking bids from contractors each time.

This model will not fit owners who are working on a one-time project.

How to know which project delivery method is suitable for you?

To suggest a method for your client, ensure you understand how time-sensitive and budget-sensitive the project is, how experienced and savvy the project owner is, and how many projects they have in line.

Whatever you pick, PlanMan will be fantastic to organise communication between all the stakeholders and contractors, hosting all documents and drafts, and managing your work for maximum client satisfaction. Check out the free trial now!