GIRI Design Guide Preview: Contractor input4 Aug 22
All projects benefit from tapping into a contractor’s knowledge of delivery, buildability and construction techniques before design options are closed down to help regulate the quality of designs and reduce errors. The revised GIRI Design Guide addresses the benefits and the obstacles to this approach, and makes recommendations for achieving that early contractor sense check within the constraints of commercial rules.
The design process involves the identification and exploration of concepts to determine how to reach the best solution, but time is often wasted working up options that are later revealed to have fundamental flaws in terms of buildability, delivery, or construction. Involvement by a contractor at the design stage could help ensure designs are workable before they progress and reduce design changes after tender award that can result in avoidable errors as well as unnecessary waste.
However, commercial rules, particularly those that govern the tender process, can prevent this type of input as there are concerns that consulting a contractor before tender could create an unfair or uncompetitive tender process. And if a contractor is appointed through some form of ‘early contractor involvement’, it can be difficult to ensure that the contractor’s price is competitive.
What are the desired outcomes and how can you achieve them?
Contractors, with their knowledge and experience of delivery, buildability and performance, should be involved in all projects at an early design stage, regardless of the form of procurement. This may involve appointing the main contractor early, to harness their knowledge of construction during the development and refinement of the design, or alternatively appointing a contractor or specialist subcontractor on a consultancy basis to assist the design team.
Appoint a contractor on a consultancy basis
GIRI recommends that as a minimum the client should appoint a suitable contractor or specialist subcontractor on a formal basis with the appropriate caveats, to consult with as the design develops. This ensures the team benefits from those with a detailed knowledge of construction. The role could include reviewing the design to verify that all designers have fulfilled their duties, in particular in meeting the client’s requirements and supplying the specified level of design information.
Assess designs against delivery, buildability and construction considerations
This will reduce the likelihood of redesigns for buildability at a later stage. Designers’ duties as described in their scope of services should be made available to the contractor to allow the design to be challenged if it fails to satisfy the agreed requirements at a particular project stage. Whilst this might be controversial, over time it could help regulate the quality of designs, and hence reduce errors.
A more detailed exploration of contractor input is available in the revised GIRI Design Guide, which will be published later this year. Sign up to our newsletter to be notified once the guide is published.