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The design/build delivery approach is preferred by some owners due to the single point responsibility.

The role of the design professional in the design/build construction process:

There may be three different formats in the role of the design professional

  1. The prime entity where the design professional has sole responsibility for both design and construction - this would require an architect/engineer to obtain bonding surety, construction financing and be responsible for equipment and installation warranties.

    Since most architects/engineers do not have a construction background, obtaining bonding and financing can be extremely difficult or impossible.

  2. Co-responsible entity - A limited liability partnership could be formed with the contractor and the design professional. In this case, both partnership parties are responsible for each others work. The laws of the state or commonwealth must be carefully reviewed before proceeding with the limited liability partnership approach.

    For example, New York State laws require that all members of the partnership be New York State registered architects, engineers or land surveyors.

  3. Subcontractor - A prime contractor retaining a design professional is another alternative. In this case, the contractor is the prime entity retained by the owner. This is probably the most popular arrangement for a design build project.

    Again, the laws of the state or commonwealth must be carefully examined. For example, a State might prohibit non-engineers from offering engineering services, and would consider a contractor who subcontracts engineering services to be in violation. In this case, a contractor might retain an architect/engineer on the owner's behalf, where the architect/engineer is directly responsible to the owner for design documents and design liability.

Who does the design professional answer to in a design/build relationship?

Since there is a contractor - engineer relationship, there are frequent conversations and planning with regards to constructability, scheduling, and cost control. It is likely that a detailed project scope, acceptable equipment and occupancy date have been prenegotiated with the project owner.

The responsibility of the design build team is to provide the contracted systems within the negotiated cost and completion date. It is the responsibility of the design professional to provide a design that meets applicable fire prevention and building codes.

It is a violation of professional conduct for "failing to report in writing to the project owner or to the owner's designated agent any unauthorized or improperly authorized substantial disregard by any contractor of plans or specifications for construction or fabrication, when professional observation or supervision of the work is provided for in the agreement between the owner and the design professional or when supervision of the work is under the control of the design professional.

For additional information on Sigma Psi Consulting,
Paul Martin, or call (518) 581-9428.
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