There are numerous versions of the design-build (D-B) process being applied throughout the building industry today. At the same time, there are probably just as many methods of soliciting proposals from D-B firms to compete in this business arena. Critical to the long-term success of the project, the process needs to include consideration of operation and maintenance after the project has been built and/or renovated. As a result, a comprehensive request for proposal (RFP) that addresses issues beyond engineering and construction is integral to the success of the building program.

Details, Details

For the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to be involved with the design-build-facility management (D-B-FM) process. During that time I had the benefit of working for a company that offered all three services. It was during my eight years with that firm that I shaped my opinions and approach to the D-B-FM process. To my surprise, I don’t find many people who see the process the same way I do, but my experience reinforces that my vision of D-B-FM is a viable process. This concept is outlined below in a manner that I encourage building owners to follow when pursuing a building program.

As someone who has had the opportunity to fill the role of owner’s representative for building programs, here are my suggestions for development of an RFP when pursuing a building program:

  • Outline the “deliverables” to be received from each D-B-FM team proposal within the RFP.
  • Identify the program goals and require the bidders to certify that the performance criteria for the building program and “optimum facility management” business plan will be demonstrated and met to the customer’s satisfaction. Also request how the D-B-FM team will demonstrate this performance.
  • Require an organization chart with names and résumés of people in charge. Do the same for the next-most responsible person per category, covering design team members, construction team members, and facility management team members.
  • Require the D-B-FM team members to work under the same roof during the project. This isn’t to say the entire team has to belong to the same company. The intent is to have everyone “in one room,” so to speak. The customer is investing hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars, and it is imperative that the team optimizes their time together through communication, shared experience and ideas, and team building.
  • Identify the project criteria in abbreviated fashion. Using a building renovation as an example, the following should be part of the RFP “deliverables”:

  • Design intent room finish schedule;
  • Design intent space conditions (mechanical, electrical, data, security, etc.);
  • Design intent utility schedule (steam, hot water, etc.);
  • Design intent flow diagrams (mechanical, electrical, data, security, etc.);
  • Design intent CAFM and/or CMMS system options; and
  • Value-added alternatives (initiated by D-B-FM team).

Know What You Want

In soliciting bids for a building program, it is important to be specific in the goals relative to construction budget, project timeline, and operating budget. At the same time, it is important to give the D-B-FM team the maximum opportunity to demonstrate their creative and collective experience to successfully meet the RFP requirements. All too often, a request for services will unwittingly limit the opportunities to engineering and construction requirements.

Having been on both sides of the process, there are tremendous benefits to the customer who solicits an RFP based on D-B-FM. In addition, when writing the RFP, the customer or his/her representative should also outline how the process will be implemented relative to teamwork. Otherwise, the process is simply an abbreviated design-bid-build project.