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There are four approaches to building. These are Traditional, Construction Management and Design/Build or Team Method. All of these approaches have strengths, but there are also flaws which are important to understand before selecting a builder for your project.

In the traditional building process, responsibilities are fragmented by separating planning and design from construction. This tends to create general problem areas as the Owner’s intentions are communicated to those involved at the planning and design stage. This means the Contractors are not responsible for executing the Owner’s intentions, only executing the working drawings. Also, the competitive bidding procedure automatically directs the Contractors to do everything the most economical way instead of the best way. It is in the Owner’s best interests to make intelligent compromises between “most economical” and “best”. This cannot be accomplished through the traditional tender method without issuing change orders or making changes to the working drawings. As a result, there is a risk for the Owner to lose control over the quality for the sake of obtaining the low cost.

Construction Management has several variations. The concept centers around the introduction of the Construction Manager as the Owner’s Agent and Manager of the entire project. Each segment of the construction program is contracted separately with the Owner. The Construction Manager prepares the estimates, but he cannot guarantee costs. He does not assume contractual responsibility and corresponding risks of the construction project costs.

The essence of the Design/Build Concept is the idea that quality, completion dates and costs can be brought firmly under control by assigning total responsibility for all these factors to one single entity: Like the “Master Builders” of ancient times, the design/builders responsibility spans the entire building process from concept through to completion and commissioning. To be effective, the Design/Builder must combine a strong management ability, with the experience in balancing a good design with construction economics. In the Design/Build process the Architect is contractually responsible to the Design/Build Contractor and works as part of the team to plan and design the best and most economical facility that meets the Owner’s needs, budget and schedule. The Team Method is similar to the Design/Build method in most respects with the only difference being that the Architects and Engineers are under contract to the Owner.