Project Delivery is the method chosen for the design and construction of your building project. There are over a dozen project delivery methods in common use, and more to come with the advent of true BIM. Fortunately all the methods fall into two main categories - design-bid-build and fast track. See Part 1. All the other variations amount to different contracting methods for providing one of these two styles of project delivery. It is important to resolve the Project Delivery Method early in the process, because you cannot easily change methods because of existing contracts, fees and relationships.
The Project Delivery Contract Methods
The traditional method of contracting for design and construction is for the Owner to hire an Architect and a Contractor, who is selected through the bidding process. A variation is for the Owner to hire the Contractor based on other criteria than bidding. In this case the Contractor is often paid the cost of the work plus a fee.
The design/build method of contracting involves the Owner selecting a design and construction team based on proposals, competition or a preliminary design. The Owner has the benefit of one point of responsibility for both the design and the construction. Because the design is not complete, it is very likely that 'issues' will arise that were not included in the cost. Often this contracting method includes a Guaranteed Maximum Price. What is 'guaranteed', in my opinion, is the Design/Builder's profit. A change in the scope of the project always comes at a price - more money or elimination of something else.
The construction management method of contracting for design and construction comes in two flavors. The Construction Manager may be the constructor, and thereby at risk, or he may be an advisor where he is paid a fee. This second flavor makes the Construction Manager similar to the Architect. In either case the Architect may work for the Construction Manager, although this almost never happens when the Construction Manager is an advisor.
You will note that some of these project delivery methods are set up to have the Architect working for someone besides the Owner. Be aware that who the Architect works for affects his loyalty. It isn't realistic to expect the Architect to side with the Owner of the project against his client, who he may have an on-going relationship with. Most contractors, not all, would prefer to have the architect work for them so that they can control the architect and his scope of work. Again, be aware.
In Part 3 we will look at some additional wrinkles that create hybrid methods.