The last twenty years have seen a remarkable growth in the popularity of the design-build project delivery system. Unlike traditional building projects that divide design and construction, the design-build model unites design and construction services in a single entity. With architects, engineers, and contractors all working together, projects can be streamlined, saving the client time and money. One of the keys to the current success of the design-build system, and what sets it apart from other project models, is the ability of the contractor to focus on constructability from the inception of the project.
What is Constructability?
Constructability doesn’t just mean making sure that the project is buildable—it also implies that there will be a smooth transition from the design to the construction stage of a project and that the construction process will proceed efficiently. When a design-build contractor improves constructability, they’re ensuring that the entire construction process, from conceptual planning to field operations, will be coordinated to minimize delays and unanticipated costs.
Design Build and Constructability
When the design and construction of a building project are managed by the same entity, people with construction knowledge can be brought into the design process early on in order to provide their expertise and advice. These team members with first-hand construction and engineering experience are an invaluable part of the design phase, and there are a number of ways in which this collaborative effort can help improve constructability:
- Selection of materials and equipment: A design-build contractor will be able to accurately estimate the cost and risk that comes from choosing particular materials and equipment. They will also be able to incorporate design elements that will reduce the cost of labor.
- Detailing: Design-build contractors will include detailing in the design process, decreasing the time and cost of fabrication.
- Regulatory reviews: Design-build contractors can incorporate seismic bracing, inserts, and metal for excessive loads to avoid delays caused by regulatory reviews.
- Pricing: Because materials are selected early in the design process, prices can be set early on to avoid unexpected costs down the road.
- Integration of building systems: The cross-discipline collaboration of the design-build team eases the integration of all building systems.
- Future concerns: Design-build contractors are able to act during the design phase to anticipate and prevent other issues with construction that may arise in the future.
Obviously, problems with construction can’t be avoided entirely, but efforts to improve constructability in the design phase allow design-build contractors to respond quickly and effectively to complications when they arise. When everyone is working under one roof, the team is flexible and can seamlessly navigate projects through issues such as fluctuations in the market, budgetary constraints, and changes in project goals. This streamlined process wouldn’t be possible without the focus on constructability that design-build contractors bring to a project.