Project Delivery Methods and BIM Implementation

Different project delivery methods in the Construction Industry and how the implementation of BIM improves them

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All construction projects require a blend of services, including planning, finance, design, and construction. Construction project delivery methods consist of ways to organize these services to execute the project. While each project delivery method generally includes an owner, a designer, and a builder, the execution of a project will differ. The steps required and taken in a project’s journey to completion will define how successful the project will be. Therefore, choosing the right project delivery method is a very crucial step to be taken before construction begins.

Selecting a construction project delivery method largely depends on two factors:

  •  The type of project (new construction, repair, renovation, sustainability), and
  • The characteristics and requirements of the owner.

The ultimate success of a project delivery method depends on the level of collaboration, quality, and experience of the owner and service provider(s) teams and the consistent as well as the comprehensive application of the selected project delivery method and associated supporting information technology.

The following are the most commonly used types of project delivery methods:

1. Design-Bid-Build (DBB)
2. Design-Build (DB)
3. Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR)
4. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)
5. Public-Private-Partnership (3P)

1. Design-Bid-Build (DBB)

This project delivery method is the conventional means of delivering a construction project and maintains a clear separation between the construction and design process.

Generally, the only criteria for the selection of a contractor in design-bid-build (DBB) projects are the lowest construction cost. Firstly, in the DBB process, an architect or engineer (A/E) is appointed by an owner to create the design documents (drawings and technical specifications) for a project. Also, the A/E will develop a project and a cost estimate. On the completion of design documents, a Request for Bids (Tender) is created and released for the contractors. The Contractors will then evaluate the project documents and provide a cost for the project. The architect and engineers are responsible for answering tenderers’ questions and for assisting the owner in evaluating the received bids. Once a bid is selected, the owner sets a contract with the chosen contractor, and work begins on the project. The DBB method is typically the most common to those in the industry. It also has the ability to deliver a low-cost project. Therefore, the DBB process is best used on projects that are simple, that are not under a tight time schedule and that have a limited budget.

Implementing BIM in a DBB process helps in simplifying a lot of work. In a DBB process, the architect can model the project using the BIM tools and can get an estimate which can be used to float the tender. Once the contract is awarded to the contractor, the BIM models are passed on to the contractor team. The project progress can be updated on this platform, and the architect, as well as the owner, will be well informed on how the project progress is. As compared to the DB process implementing BIM in a DBBS process is a tedious task.

2. Design-Build (DB)

In a DB project delivery method, the owner hires a company or team under one contract to deliver and complete the construction project from start to finish. Since this team is responsible for both the designing and the construction components, pricing changes are kept to a minimum. Pricing changes usually occur in those instances where unknown conditions or owner requests necessitate cost increases. If the DB method includes more than one company, the owner needs to identify the working relationship between the members of the selected team to minimize and negate conflicts further down the road.

The DB method has the ability to deliver a project on a tight schedule, as projects can be split up (divided) and delivered in a package approach, where individual components are designed as well as built as needed to achieve the final completion date. As it is the same contractor designing, the design is done in such a way that the contractor will be able to carry out the work in an easier way. The owner establishes the maximum price of the project early on and has a significant say over the cost control.

DB is generally used for construction projects where the owner has clearly established his requirements prior to design. It is also an appropriate method when the schedule is a concern, as it removes the components of the schedule that would be consumed by the bidding and procurement process.

When BIM is implemented in DB projects, it really showcases its capability to decrease costs, shrink schedules, and improve overall project quality. It also extends the project team’s capacity to take into consideration the aspects like sustainability in the design and construction process. This is based on DB’s ability to enhance the collaboration between the design and construction teams. BIM is a collaborative process, providing the Design-Build team with a perfect platform to evaluate, present, and document the ideas. In addition, it gives both the design and construction team the ability to give much more detail into the various models earlier in the process. This gives better decision making and increased capability to evaluate various design options against cost, quality, schedule, and sustainability without the need for the back and forth that typically happens in the Design Bid Build environment.

3. Construction Management At-Risk (CMAR)

The CMAR method requires the hiring of a manager who is most often a general construction contractor with technical and financial skills and capabilities suited to the project. In this, an individual or a firm can hold this management role. A CMAR may be introduced during the initial planning and pre-planning stages, during the design and drawing phases of the project, or at the pre-construction stage. Throughout the project, the CMAR firm might also be responsible for assisting the owner in the following areas: Construction schedule, Project budget, Cash flow analysis, Discussion, and acceptance of means and methods of construction etc. Engaging a CMAR in a project gives the owner numerous benefits. Many aspects of project risk execution are transferred to the CMAR, reducing the owner’s likely overall risks. Once the owner agrees with the guaranteed maximum price from the firm in the initial stage, any additional cost overruns become the obligation of the CMAR’s team.

Implementing BIM into the CMAR process reaps the same benefits which a DB process incorporates from its implementation. In this, a BIM manager can also be appointed who will take care of the works related to BIM. This will also increase the collaboration between the Architect team, the contractor team, and the management team. A smooth and organized workflow can be achieved, which will enhance the process of project completion.

4. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)

IPD is a relatively new construction project delivery method, which has made a significant entry into the construction field only in the last decade. In this method, the owner selects an Architect, contractor, and even a construction management team if required before the kick-off of the design of the project. A joint contract is signed between all three entities after goals, objectives, and scope are established collaboratively.

This delivery method includes early participation from the contractor, which can lead to a streamlined design that is explicitly directed towards project objectives. Similar to the CMAR method, the owner must remain highly committed to the project as a crucial member of the project team. IPD provides an opportunity for minimizing project costs and increasing efficiency through the cooperation of the team members.

As it is a single contract signed, architect, contractor, and construction management team are legally bound into a single entity. Therefore, the risk that is generally assigned to one party is now spread to all parties, which is causes trouble for many owners. However, the increased collaboration achieved in the IPD method among the parties is thought to reduce the overall risk.

As all 3 (Architect, Contractor, and Management Team) entities are formed in the initial stage, the implementation of BIM in the project will be able to achieve all the benefits BIM can provide. It will reduce the confusion between different project participants and lead to improved communication, collaboration, and decision-making process between them, which will benefit the project.

5. Public-Private-Partnership (3P)

In the construction industry, the 3P model involves a contract established between a government (Public) entity and a private corporation/company (Private) to fund, construct/renovate, and usually operate and maintain the public infrastructure. In return to this, the private cooperation will receive an income that is generated from the completed project (for a pre-determined time period) in order to pay back, and eventually to earn profit from the investment. Some of the PPP project delivery methods are Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT), Build-Own-Operate (BOO) or Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT), and Design-Build-Finance-Operate (DBFO) or Design-Build- Finance-Operate-Maintain (DBFOM)

Implementing BIM in Public-Private Partnership models helps mainly in the Facility Management of the project. This keeps track of the repair and renovation works, Operation and Maintenance data of the building, Sustainability performance of the building, space management within, etc.
So once the project is handed over, the entire updated data related to the project can also be handed over to the new owner of the firm.

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Deciding which project delivery method is best relies a lot on the experience you have with the type of project, your timeline, how much control over the project you want, and your budget. Also, every project is different, so we need to choose the right method on a case-by-case basis. Also, the implementation of BIM on the selected method has its own benefits and helps in finishing the project in a smoother and organised manner. It also helps in documenting the changes taking place with the project throughout its lifecycle.

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