Alternative Project Delivery Systems

ACC Global Airport Business Development Toolkit

Alternative Project Delivery Systems

For many years, the traditional Design-Bid-Build (DBB) project delivery system, often coupled with low bid, was the primary means by which owners in the United States contracted for capital project development services.  The traditional system prevailed primarily because many local jurisdictions in the U.S. were legally unable to use alternative project delivery systems. This was especially true for public airport projects.

In recent years, the FAA has recognized the use of Design-Build (DB) and Construction Management at Risk (CM@Risk) as approved alternative project delivery systems for airport projects funded with federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds.  As a result, the use of these alternative project delivery systems at U.S. airports is gaining popularity.  Even though many owners have been enabled to use alternative project delivery systems as a result of the FAA’s approval, many still are not prepared to work outside of their traditional DBB project delivery comfort zone.

In the global airport marketplace, however, the use of alternative project delivery systems is more accepted and much more prevalent than traditional DBB.  For a firm interested in doing work globally that has only to date provided services using DBB, it is important that they become familiar with the far reaching implications of these alternative approaches.

First, the builder is involved actively and early in the design process when virtually any of the alternative systems are used.. As a result, the design professional is no longer the sole entity advising the owner on design and technical issues.  In CM@Risk, for example, the builder typically works with the architect and the owner during the design process to share technical expertise, resulting in better documentation, more accurate estimates and more experience-based scheduling.  It also allows more frequent communications and a greater sense of shared responsibilities.

In DB, the builder is heavily involved in the design process from the very beginning.  In fact, this is a unique relationship that requires adaptation and the commitment of both parties relative to assignment of design and construction performance.  Most commonly in the DB approach, the builder is contractually responsible to the owner for the design professional’s performance and the designer is contractually tied to the builder, typically as a sub-consultant, although the designer is seldom contractually obligated to take on the builder’s construction risks.  The impact of These relationships can have a profound impact on the project. Therefore, during the project start-up it is vital that both parties fully understand their respective roles and that positive relationships are established.

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