Get the Facts: The Three Prongs of CM at-Risk Selections

By: Tommy Goodyear, Senior Project Manager

As contractors, we are constantly asked about the benefits of a Construction Management (CM) at-Risk project delivery method versus a traditional hard bid process. There is a wealth of information regarding this topic online. Experts outline the cost-saving advantages of collaboration between architect, owner and contractor from the project’s conception.

We have found that the CM at-Risk method develops team trust that is not realized in the hard bid process. By the time construction begins, the entire project team is confident in their knowledge of the design plans and the subcontractors that will be performing the work. Perhaps most importantly, however, is the knowledge that both architect and contractor have done everything in their power to provide an efficient and competitive cost program for the owner.

Experience has taught us that sometimes owners do not request all of the information necessary in selecting a general contractor through the CM at-Risk process. Contractors should be required to submit not only a construction fee, but also a preconstruction fee and a general conditions package. These three items represent dollars going to the contractor in lieu of being spent on the program of the project.

The Thomson-McDuffie Government Complex is a perfect example of a project built on trust through the CM process. The McDuffie County Commission issued an RFQ/RFP for their new government complex. R. W. Allen submitted qualifications and was one of four short-listed firms.

In the Request for Proposals, McDuffie County only asked for a construction fee. They did not request a preconstruction fee or general conditions. Later, the commission requested a re-submission by all firms to include their preconstruction fee and general conditions package before final selection. The difference in total cost translated to a $372,000 savings that could be used in the construction of the project. Additionally, R. W. Allen was able to return $335,000 to the McDuffie County Commission during construction in the form of buy-out savings and unused contingency.

By asking for the correct information and ultimately by selecting R. W. Allen as their general contractor, the McDuffie County Commission saved a total of $707,000 on the construction of their government complex.