This is the fourth and final part in a discussion about an upcoming design-build (D-B) case study in this magazine. Last month we highlighted the D-B firm's strategy to produce a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) and final engineering documents. This month, we are going to touch on the construction and project closeout of Project X.

Documentation and Drawings

With the authorization to proceed, we frequently find a cautious skepticism on the part of trade contractors. D-B is a significant change from the construction work that many hvac contractors are used to. It is not unusual for the contractor to request completed drawings and specifications because that is what they are used to receiving in the past. For this job, partnering with contractors the D-B firm had confidence in based on past experience was the game plan.

As a D-B management firm, we try and focus on what documentation is needed to define the scope of work and develop the project cost. When moving into the construction phase, the D-B firm needs to bring in pre-qualified contractors who are prepared to work with this firm to develop field-coordinated drawings that will also become the record drawings. In the case of Project X, it was imperative to develop the installation documents together because of the complexity of existing conditions. Maintaining the antiquity of the interior finishes was also paramount to project success.

While limiting the construction documentation until field coordination had begun, the D-B team had to also produce sufficient drawings for obtaining building permits and, in this case, historical committee review/approval. The project strategy was to produce computer-aided drawings (CAD) for architectural floor plans, mechanical equipment locations, a system flow diagram, and sequence of operation along with an electrical one-line diagram showing the power distribution. Pipe, sheet metal, and electrical distribution drawings would come later.

Trust is Essential

With these drawings in hand, field coordination began with the design engineers (hvac and electrical) working on the site with the trade contractors.

Collectively, the team established the most efficient method to route the piping and electrical conduits. At the same time, it is important to note that a trust must exist between the design and construction professionals because they are working to produce a product within a pre-determined construction estimate.

Project closeout should begin as equipment is purchased and field coordination drawings are produced. For this job, the D-B project manager requested that each equipment manufacturer's operation and maintenance manual be submitted immediately following the approved shop drawing. As equipment arrived on site, the job superintendent logged in pertinent data that would become an integral part of the preventive maintenance (PM) work order system. The day that this facility is turned back over to the customer, a PM work order system will be in place to complement the installing hvac contractor's service contract.

The D-B team also received the equipment manufacturer's start-up sheets months ahead of time so that the team could begin the start-up and commissioning of the hvac and electrical systems. All this information would be incorporated into the Project Closeout Manual along with the data retrieval sheets, shop drawings, warranties, etc.

Project closeout also requires record drawings. The D-B team's field coordination drawings were being updated on a weekly basis via CAD. As a result, weeks before the project is to be completed, the record drawings will already be finished.

To Summarize

In recapping the past four months of "Single Source Solutions," it is important to highlight the following:
  • Entering the D-B business requires a business plan.
  • Strategic planning is essential to the D-B firm's long-term success.
  • D-B opportunities don't just happen. Projects are created from the firm's ability to network and draw upon work based on the firm's reputation.
  • D-B is a culture change for all those involved.
  • A niche business for the hvac D-B community can frequently come from capital projects and facility assessments.
  • D-B projects require a guaranteed maximum price early in the building program.
  • Project closeout begins at the start of the job and not as the project nears it end.