Although many facts of managing a construction management at-risk project are similar to managing a design-build project, there are distinctive differences. Much like design-build projects, CMAR projects are also all about teamwork and reaping the benefits of constructor collaboration as early as possible in design development. In contrast, however, a CMAR project owner has separate contractual relationships with the CMAR firm and the designer.
Because of this, as well as other differences, owners overseeing a CMAR project should make the following considerations when putting together a project management plan.
- An integrated project schedule, including each planned procurement.
- Requirements for CMAR procurement.
- A process to guide collaboration between the designer and the CMAR firm, including an understanding of when to have the CMAR firm engage with the design firm.
- The responsibilities for quality assurance and quality control for each team member.
- A process for how CMAR services during design are to be paid to the CMAR firm.
- The procurement approach for the CMAR segment of the project.
- The level of self-performance – if any – to be allowed by, or required of, the CMAR firm.
- The level of transparency in development of the cost of work that will be required to finalize the GMP or fixed price.
- The level of transparency in the cost of the work that will be required for invoicing the construction work.
- Information on how the CMAR firm is expected to prepare procurement and subcontracting packages.
- A process for how changes are to be addressed with the CMAR firm.
- Clear delineation of responsibilities among the designer, the CMAR firm and the owner.
CMAR calls for a paradigm shift in mindset from design-bid-build. Having the entire team commit to project goals is especially important, given that two different firms, the designer and the CMAR firm, are both working for the owner in the best interests of the project.
Some owners prefer to have the same firm perform the design and the SMAR work – an approach that more closely resembles the progressive design-build delivery approach. Regardless, it is important to take into account the key differences between CMAR and design-build when approaching a project as an owner.