Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Four Ways to Build. Four Lessons Learned.

While there are a number of contract forms for building services, they all sort of revolve around these four:

Design and Bid. The architect prepares plans and the contractor builds. Fairly simple. Over the last several years, it seems the budgets for architectural design are getting tighter and thus there is not enough design money or time to prepare all details, which can increase tension.

Design-Build. The contractor leads the process. Budgets are more predictable, as it integrates the “master builder” with constructability. If an experienced, trustworthy general contractor is chosen, one should see increased efficiency and less adversarial relationships.

Construction Management. CM implements the design-build processes by way of a professional advocate, from concept to finish. CM does have a tendency to segregate design and construction contracts. This makes fast-tracking a bit easier. In certain applications, particularly public work, CM either makes the system more efficient or satisfies the political influences present.

Integrated project delivery (IPD). I call this “Design Assist.” People, systems, business structures and practices form a collaborative alliance to create a process that harnesses the talents. This can optimize project results, reduce waste and maximize efficiency through all phases.

Now here are my four lessons learned through all of these:

  1. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
  2. If something is too good to be true, it is.
  3. Pay a fair amount. It’s one thing to be excited on the front end, but this is just the beginning.
  4. Deal with decent people. No amount of contract paperwork is a substitute for dealing with the wrong people.
Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.