This month, I continue to examine the different project delivery methods (PDMs), focusing on why design-build (D-B) and integrated project delivery (IPD) are superior to design-bid-build (D-B-B) or construction management (CM). 

Experience has also shown me that D-B and IPD offer enhanced teamwork with quality control (QC) serving as an integral part of both PDMs. D-B-B has very limited QC opportunities, leaving the design team and CM to their own means to maintain in-house QC and not QC teamwork. 

It’s important to note D-B or IPD opportunities, such as infrastructure replacements, chiller and boiler plant expansions, and energy conservation/retrofits, are attractive business opportunities for HVAC consulting firms and HVAC contractors to pursue as leads rather than subs.  

For D-B projects, a client signs a contract with a D-B firm that will take on the sole responsibility to design and build the project to the contractually agreed upon scope of work. The fee will most likely be a fixed-fee with no changes in the scope-of-work without the client’s approval.  

There are several reasons why D-B-B and CM have been more popular than D-B over the years, but much of this is because of a misunderstanding of what D-B is and the concern that a client loses control of competitive pricing by contracting with a single firm responsible for the design and construction of a client’s project. What most building owners don’t recognize is that all owners have been purchasing D-B services since they purchased their first automobile. Every car on the road is a D-B product designed, built, commissioned, and warrantied by a single organization. 

I consider IPD to be an enhanced version of D-B with the client, design firm, and builder signing a single, mutually agreed upon contract that may also include the signatures of prime subconsultants and subcontractors, such as an HVAC consulting firm, to further enhance teamwork. 

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) defines IPD as “a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures, and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results; increases value to the owner; reduces waste; and maximizes efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.” 

These owner-architect-contractor IPD projects will have a lump sum total cost along with a financial incentive for completing the project within the agreed cost. My own preference has been with the client and D-B/IPD signer agreeing on an open-book accountability and a fixed-total project cost with the D-B firm’s overhead and profit included within this total cost. It has never made sense to me why an IPD/D-B team should receive an added financial incentive for delivering a job well done.