A new Missouri law that’s expected to save cities, school districts and other political subdivisions money on their construction projects took effect Aug. 28.
Gov. Jay Nixon on July 1 signed into law House Bill 2376, which allows local governments the option to enter into design-build contracts with general contractors for capital projects.
Design-build is a method of selecting a single contractor to carry out the design and construction of a project.
Advocates of design-build say the simplified process allows public bodies to save on costs and time for procurement on construction projects.
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In a traditional bidding situation, procurement required a two-step process. The first involves picking a firm for design services, such as architects and engineers. That selection was based on qualifications. The second step, choosing a contractor, generally involves going with the lowest bidder.
“You have really qualified plans and specifications,” Bill Quatman, general counsel for Kansas City engineering firm Burns & McDonnell, said of traditional bidding. “All things being equal, you get the lowest price contractor to build it for you.”
Under design-build, a company can offer both construction and design services under a single proposal.
Quatman, who is also national board chairman for the Design-Build Institute of America, helped write H.B. 2376.
Design-build, he argues, leads to shorter construction schedules and lower costs.
Data support this view. A joint study by the Construction Industry Institute and Penn State University found project delivery speed was 33 percent faster using design-build, based on a sampling of 351 construction projects.
“I think they will see faster projects, fewer orange cones on the roadways for a shorter duration of time, fewer claims, lower costs for the taxpayers,” Quatman said, “and, at the end of the day, better projects.”