by Ar. Abhishek Dutta
In one of our previous (almost 5 years old) blog, we had discussed the “CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT: PROBLEMS FOR PLOT-OWNERS AT NEW TOWN, KOLKATA” (we strongly suggest you read that first before reading this one). This blog was very popular and we received a lot of phone calls and emails with appreciation, suggestions and some for further clarification. Many plot owners asked about the best possible solution for the issues we had discussed.
Also through our experience of working in the New Town area for last 12 years as architects, Landscape Architects, Interior Designers and Project management Consultants, we realized many other issues related to quality control, following good engineering practices was impossible for us to handle as consultants. The lack of quality materials, good contractors, good masons, general knowledge base of the construction team on handling and caring for materials and built elements prompted us to think differently. Thus we started a couple of pilot project as Architect Led Design Built or ALDB project. The insightful experience from those opened our eyes further where we realized the issues not only from an architect’s perspective but from the perspective of the contractor and Clients as well. The payment delays, the local issues, finding and managing good workers, dealing with delays of material supply from manufacturers, transport issues, the lacuna in supervision, issues with changing requirements of owners or escalation of material prices etc. After in-depth analysis, most of the problems were found to be either Project Planning or expectation handling issue. We reached a conclusion thereafter along with many other fellow architects and consultants, that the ALDB model is the best alternative for quality conscious clients who deserve a much better final project with full awareness/ transparency and control over the budget and time with significantly less headache through a Trustworthy Honest Architect’s ALDB Team.
Design-Build is the project delivery method where the design and construction aspects are performed under a single contract with a single entity (or through sister concerns). A single source is responsible for both designing and building the project (thus the name).
One of the oldest forms of construction (the Architect – ‘Sthapati’ the “master builder” approach), Design-Build continues to grow in popularity because of its many benefits:
Benefits to owners
- Owner’s risk is minimized with single-source responsibility.
- The schedule is reduced with the design and construction phases overlapping, and bidding phase eliminated.
- Costs are evaluated constantly as construction personnel are engaged early in the process.
- Speed of completion
- Greater cost savings and earlier cost certainty
- “Value Engineering” at conceptual stages rather than too late, after project design is complete
- Better communication
- Fewer disputes and litigation
- Higher quality outcomes
- Clear roles, responsibilities, and accountability
- Less administrative burden
- Reduced risk to the client (because the design-build entity assumes more)
- Reduced risk to design consultants and subcontractors which result in lower construction costs, greater efficiencies and fewer litigation claims.
Benefits to Architect
- Control over costs
- Control over design and flexibility of design betterment even at after sampling, ensuring
- his best vision is executed.
- Easy quality monitoring & greater control.
- Creative Satisfaction.
- Streamlined team communication, so less administration, fewer litigation claims, greater market share as more owners choose this approach.
Design-build architects learn from experience in a dynamic, live process during an evolving project, to achieve design goals and yield authentic outcomes: From experience, they are able to work with placeholders, anticipating when to defer design decisions and trusting that as open-ended options become limited and details more precise, a robust, appropriate authentic design can and will emerge. In this sense, design-build is as much an art as it is a tried and trusted methodology.
- Owners remain involved and therefore are able to contribute throughout their projects. Because of the process, they are able to make informed decisions at the opportune times, which results in better buildings that meet their needs in meaningful ways.
- Subcontractors are respected as team members and can perform their work more efficiently, effectively and profitably. Unknowns in their work are reduced so that they are better positioned to be financially successful.
- Architects regain control, assert their value in making buildings, ensuring their designs are realized
- Architects gain and share knowledge in their community of practice
- Conflict is reduced or resolved at low cost
- Costs and quality are controlled
- As more “trouble free” high-quality buildings are bid, architects will gain respect and have more impact on the built environment
In all fairness, Design-Build does have some issues:
- Design-Build does not usually make use of competitive bidding
- Subjective selection process.
- Difficult to coordinate properly for publicly funded projects.
For privately funded projects, it seems to me that ALL of the “cons” are outweighed by the “pros” IF the Client has a better-than-average level of TRUST in the Design-Builder. And, trust is noticeably lacking in today’s economic climate. The “design-builder” has, in recent history, been the general contractors or engineers in best case scenario. However, in a growing number of cases, the Design-Builder can also be the Architect, who, in most cases, is very interested in a great design outcome.
The Owners of New Town have experienced the horror of Design-Bid-Build, and long for an easier, quicker, cleaner method. I firmly believe that by allowing the Architect to provide single-source responsibility for the project – design and construction – the Client has a greater chance of obtaining a successful project and architect also gets a deeper sense of satisfaction as his/her design creation takes the exact shape it deserves to get.
About the author: Ar. Abhishek Dutta, Founder Partner of ArcOn Design, is one of most renowned architects of the region. This Jadavpur University alumnus is gold medalist and CoA National Award winner for his thesis of Transformable Multi-functional Residence. He has also won the National Level First Prize for Housing Innovation Challange 2015. A noted academician and editor of Indian Institute of Architects, West Bengal chapter, has been selected (along with his Partner Mrs. Susweta Dutta) amongst the TOP 50, next-generation architect of India by A&I.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and +91 9748325700 (sms or Whatsapp)