Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New California Law Unifies Approach to Design-Build

On September 30, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 785, clarifying and consolidating various Design-Build laws for public construction contracts throughout the state.

Use by state and local agencies:  Specifically, the new law provides for uniform Design-Build processes for certain state agencies, cities, counties, and other local contracting districts for projects over $1 million. The law defines a number of common terms, and outlines a standard Design-Build procurement process that includes either selection based on a low bid or a best value approach.  Click here for the legislative analysis of the bill that provides insight into the rationale for SB 785.

Who supported and opposed the bill?  The bill was supported by the AGC of California, some public owners, and the Western Pacific Region of the Design-Build Institute of America. It was opposed by some non-union contractor and subcontractor trade associations.
What is Design-Build? Design-Build is a project delivery method that places design and construction services under one contract with a single point of responsibility. Its advantages include reduced project costs, expedited project completion, and better quality due to the integration of design and construction through one firm.  The Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) has written a Design-Build Done Right Primer that explains key concepts of this project delivery method.

Design-Build nationwide: Rules for use of Design-Build vary from state to state. The Design-Build Institute of America has published a 2013 State Statute Report outlining Design-Build laws in various states.

Managing Design-Build contracts:   Design-Build can be an effective tool for some projects, but it is very important that a public agency selects the right Design-Build partner for the project.  Here are some key guidelines related to the selection process:

  • Think through the selection process carefully up front, including evaluating likely proposers and how the process and point allocation may impact the end result. 
  • Based on the particular project, evaluate the appropriate allocation of points between qualifications/technical merit and price. 
  • Don’t change the selection process mid-stream through the procurement. This can lead to protests and delays for the project. 
  • If the agency does not have personnel with specific Design-Build experience, obtain the services of a qualified consultant to guide the agency though the project.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

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