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Water Design-Build Council
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WDBC E-NEWS – April 29, 2015

Water Design Build Council

Issue Highlights

  • WDBC Responds to ENR Editorial on Project Risks

  • Information About Risks: Which Approaches Should Owners Use?

  • Education: WDBC's Programs Address Risk Topics

WDBC Responds to ENR Editorial on Project Risks

In the March 30, 2015 Editorial on “Covering Risks in Design-Build” delivery, a representative of the Association of General Contractors posted the question as to whether “design-build projects were introducing industry contractors to risks for which they are unprepared?” While AGC’s statements are directed to those in the mechanical, electrical and plumbing industries – they can seriously misconstrue and/or misinterpret the successful achievements of allocating risks in water design-build projects contracts.

In responding to the ENR editorial/article, Mark Alpert, WDBC’s Executive Director points out that the water industry views the active and continuous collaboration among project team members and the project owner as the key to successful use of design-build project delivery. Moreover, Alpert states that when differences among project team members arise as to how risk should be allocated, the results can seriously increase the chance of cost and schedule overruns, scope creep, and most importantly, failure to meet the owner’s objectives.

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Information About Risks: Which Approaches Should Owners Use?

A major advantage for utility and agency owners who chooses a design-build procurement process is the flexibility to optimize overall project risk to reduce cost and schedule. In contrast with design-bid-build procurement, owners are limited by the contracting approach and regulations that separate responsibilities for design and construction, and do not value overall performance.

In a design-build delivery, the owner transfers the risk to the design-builder for single source responsibility to integrate all of the design-builder furnished equipment, material, labor and professional services to achieve facility operating performance defined by the contract documents.  Importantly, the contract documents include the owner’s Request for Proposal (RFP), design-builder’s proposal, the final design-build contract, as well as subsequent amendments.

 How Can Owners optimize Risk to Reduce Overall Cost and Schedule?

Addressing risks actually begins early in the project planning stage, when owners are defining their goals and priorities. In developing the technical scope and contract documents owners assign risk for certain performance items.

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Education: WDBC's Programs Address Risk Topics

One of WDBC’s guidance documents, addressing the Allocation and Management of Risk is an important consideration in achieving a successful collaborative approach design-build water infrastructure projects. WDBC’s education and training program also features this important information for making decisions about  design-build delivery. 

WDBC’s Education Session: Risk, Liability and Contracting for Design-Build Water Infrastructure Projects provides information and enhances essential knowledge needed to:

  •         Understand the basic risks between parties (owners-design-builders)
  •         Avoid undesirable events and issues
  •         Reach agreement to manage and/or mitigate risk
  •         Define which party is best able to mitigate or absorb each risk
  •         The relationship of risk & liability in contracts
  •         Proprietary Issues and performance guarantees

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The Water Design-Build Council is a not-for-profit association established in 2006 to promote best practices in design-build and construction management-at-risk procurement. Implementation of this mission occurs through education and outreach, serving in a leadership role as an industry advocate for the value of collaborative delivery for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.



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The Water Design-Build Council stands ready to contribute its expertise, resources, innovation and enthusiasm to the challenge of strengthening our water and wastewater infrastructure.

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