There is a growing national trend called design-build, and in short, it is a way for building projects to be executed more quickly, with fewer surprises and thus, at a lower cost.
Design-build contracts put a company, often the builder, in the role of general contractor, and thus in charge of coordinating the work of the architects, engineers, craft workers and all the details that are required to complete a project. In the past, especially for public contracts, and until very recently, as a matter of course in Rhode Island, the public body in charge of a project functioned as the GC.
The results are often plagued with delays as designs are translated into specific building plans, as well as conflicts between architects and builders. Those and other issues subsequently cause change fees and push finish dates well beyond original projections, leaving the public interest poorly served.
Two recent projects in Rhode Island – the Wickford Junction rail station and the Laurel Avenue Bridge in Coventry – were both done with design-build and saved money and time for the state.
It is time to make design-build the rule for public contracts. •