‘IPD lite’: Do you need a contract to deliver an integrated project?

April 12, 2011

While IPD projects with three-party agreements are talked about more and more—both AIA contract documents and the AGC’s Consensus Docs have contracts for them now—many advanced BIM organizations still prefer design-build or other delivery methods.

“Traditional contracts have worked well for us in the past and continue to do so even on our BIM projects,” said John Moebes, AIA, Director of Construction at Crate & Barrel. “I don’t think a piece of paper makes you work harder or trust one another. Experience does that. Behavior isn’t really influenced much by a piece of paper.”

Moebes said he believes his company is getting the promise of IPD on its projects thanks to using trusted Building Team partners such as Moore Lindner Engineering and Steelfab without opening the owner up to more risk. Crate & Barrel also uses a modified design-build delivery process that Moebes calls “design-build-bid,” where most building components such as structural steel, concrete, and interior and exterior wall panels are agreed to as a design-build project and delivered via that route, with the balance of components being built by local contractors using private bids.

“We do have some of the relationships set up to be as close to IPD as possible without getting into a different type of contract,” Moebes said, citing C&B’s relationship with Moore Lindner and Steelfab. “These are very well-developed professional relationships,” he said. “We know what the other’s going to do without having to talk to each other. I always thought that was what you’re supposed to get to with IPD or design-build.”

SHP, the A/E half of integrated design and construction firm 2enCompass, also believes they can deliver the promise of IPD using other design-build delivery methodologies when Building Teams are all working toward the same project goals.

“We have really been able to leverage our relationship with Messer Construction,” said Aaron Phillips, director of technology and BIM services at SHP. “Even if we don’t have an IPD contract, we can have the methodologies and leverage the concepts behind integration.”

Both Moebes and Phillips said that while there are a few celebrated IPD projects, mainly in healthcare, most subcontractors and suppliers aren’t keen to work in an IPD.

“With 2enCompass we can force some of those relationships,” Phillips said. “But that design-build application with Messer accounts for only 5-10% of our work. When it’s a public project we can’t force that level of participation. The perceived cost of implementation—software, manpower, and education—just having the stomach to make that leap is a real problem in this economy. The reality, however, is that the efficiencies gained save both time and money.”

         
 

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