The Value of an Integrated Project Delivery

Nevada County Contractors Association 2018 Guide
Article by Robert Wallis, Architect
Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of project delivery approaches in the Nevada County building market. These have included the traditional Design Bid Build method as well as the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach. In this article, I would like to explore these approaches in the hopes that we can make more informed decisions in our building process.
In my experience, Owners typically default to the traditional Design Bid Build method as it follows a familiar path that they believe will lead them to the lowest price for their project. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out how they hope. Projects will end up delayed, over budget, and often requiring design revisions after the permit documents are complete. I empathize with the Owner’s frustration in this. They have dedicated a fair amount of time and resources to getting the project to a point where they can start construction only to have to go back and revisit many design decisions that could have been made differently if they had the right information at the right time.
When utilizing the Integrated Project Delivery approach, the Project Team (Owner, Architect, and Contractor) are assembled at the start of the project.  Team member selections are made based upon experience and trust. This creates a partnership focused on collaboration, open communication, and achieving the end goals of the Owner. This partnership also encourages each team member to contribute their talents and insights early in the decision-making process making the greatest impact.
During design, the Contractor will prepare an overall project budget that is based upon mutually understood goals, the conceptual drawings prepared by the Architect, and the Contractor's knowledge of current construction cost. It is also at this time that the Contractor will be able to offer his expertise in construction methods and techniques contributing to higher quality and more efficient building methods in the design. With this budget and knowledge, the Team is better able to make informed design decisions regarding overall project size, the selection of products, architectural detailing, and the selection of building systems without sacrificing the quality of the end product or exceeding the Owner’s cost requirements.  The Architect will utilize the information providing to modify the design and prepare a concise set of plans allowing the Team to avoid extending the schedule for the redesign of the project for cost-saving measures later.
                One question I have received from clients regarding the IPD method is a concern they may overpaying for their project because it is not a competitively bid process. I have found this not to be the case when they factor in the decreased change orders and the ability to manage the process more effectively from start to end. One measure that can be put in place as a best practice to mitigate this concern is to have the Contractor bid out Sub-Contractor’s scope to multiple vendors, this way you are getting the competitive pricing that is desired while retaining the early involvement of the Contractor.  
The Intergraded Project Delivery approach allows the Owner to have a fully managed Design-Build process where they receive the greatest value from each of the Team members they have hired. Its collaborative environment encourages everyone to contribute their expertise and insights when they can have the most impact in providing a project that meets the Owners design goals while limiting schedule and budget overruns.