Is Design-Build Right for Your Next Project?

GRW's fifth Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) facility – the $180 million U.S. Penitentiary and Satellite Camp in Yazoo City, MS, – was completed using the design-build delivery method.

If your organization is considering design-build, GRW’s Monty Maynard, PE, LEED AP BD+C – a Past Regional Chair of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) Ohio Valley Region – can help guide you through the decision process. Involved in the design-build industry for more than 25 years, Maynard has spoken to several groups, such as the Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers, as well as the Jefferson County-Louisville Metro Sewer District, about this integrated project delivery system.

For public sector projects, Maynard recommends you first confirm whether the design-build process is allowed in your state. DBIA’s website provides the latest information within its Advocacy section

“The federal government is a major advocate of the design-build process,” says Maynard. “However, not all states permit design-build contracting, and some states restrict usage based on the project type, such as vertical or horizontal construction.” 

While more industry sectors are using the design-build process, Maynard also encourages owners to fully weigh the pros and cons of all project delivery variations.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP), one of GRW’s most sophisticated design-build project owners, understands the design-build advantages, as well as the potential stumbling blocks. GRW recently completed its fifth FBOP facility – the $180 million U.S. Penitentiary and Satellite Camp in Yazoo City, MS, – using the design-build delivery method. 

“With projects of this magnitude, the owner’s decision making structure is critical,” Maynard explains. “For example, if the design-build team encounters a site issue, FBOP’s internal team includes a civil engineer to evaluate the design-build team’s recommendations and quickly communicate the owner’s decision.”

According to Maynard, other advantages offered by an experienced design-build team include: 

  • Earlier and better understanding of entire project costs 
  • More innovations/options (energy savings, floor plan arrangement, etc.) for owner’s consideration
  • Shorter design and construction schedule 

Expedited project schedules make design-build an attractive option, but Maynard cautions all stakeholders to understand the level of effort required to develop and review the design submittals. 

“Often design-build projects necessitate concurrent design packages to meet the construction schedule,” says Maynard. For the FBOP’s $196 million facility in Aliceville, AL, GRW developed and the owner reviewed nearly 2,000 drawings for three design packages – site work/utilities, housing buildings and support buildings – simultaneously. “This fast pace only works when everyone is committed 100 percent,” Maynard says.

Overall Maynard is a proponent of the design-build process, especially since the national trend places an increased value on qualifications and technical solutions over price in the proposal process. Historically, designer-only selections are qualifications based, and constructor-only selections are based on lowest price.  Design-build can combine the two into a best value – a combination of technical design skills and competitive price. 

“With a team of qualified design and construction professionals, design-build offers the owner a single source of accountability operating under a single contract,” says Maynard. “It can be a win-win for everyone.”

Monty Maynard has more than 40 years of industry experience - and is a GRW Vice President in charge of the firm’s electrical, mechanical and structural engineering staff.  He has been involved in most of GRW’s design-build projects, which total over $2 billion in construction costs.

Does your organization need more advice before delving into design-build?

Contact Monty Maynard at (859) 223-3999 or MMaynard@grwinc.com.  UPDATE (01/21/2019): You may also wish to contact GRW's Joe Pavoni, PE, LEED AP, Assoc. DBIA, at (502) 489-8484 or JPavoni@grwinc.com Joe is a water resources engineer and a key member of the firm's Louisville office. Joe recently earned DBIA's Assoc. DBIA (Associate Design-Build Professional) designation.