Explains Subcontractor's Role in Integrated Project Delivery
May 14, 2009
They say there's no "I" in team-nor apparently is there truly an
"I" in IPD. "Working together" was the theme of a webinar presented
this afternoon by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI)
on integrated project delivery (IPD), how it differs from traditional
delivery methods, how it coexists with building information modeling
(BIM)-and what it means for subcontractors.
Erin Rae Hoffer AIA LEED AP CSI, of Autodesk Inc., explained that
IPD begins the "movement from the idea of agreements as separate
documents … toward [being] all one entity." Through this process,
the owner, designers, contractors and subcontractors are closely
involved in creating a finished product. With the advent of building
information modeling (BIM), design and construction organizations
began developing ways in which all parties could work together for
a better result for the owners by bringing together knowledge earlier
in process. IPD is the result.
Hoffer pointed out, for those subcontractors familiar with BIM,
that using "BIM is not the same as doing an integrated project with
partners under one contract." BIM is essentially a tool for creating
an integrated process (CLICK
HERE for more on BIM). When one listener asked if IPD is possible
without using BIM, Hoffer noted, "The theory is that it's possible
without BIM but in practice there's so much communication … would
be hard to imagine."
Hoffer further explained, "One of the biggest differences between
integrated and traditional design is a different way of looking
at phasing." With IPD, "emphasis here is on what, who and how being
figured out much earlier [in the process]."
The Autodesk Revit Headquarters in Waltham, Mass., was the case
study presented during this afternoon's webinar to better explain
Sarah Vekasy, AIA LEED AP, with architect Kling Stubbins, explained
that on this particular project six architects were invited to submit
work and were requested to select the builders with which they wanted
to work prior to the initial interview. Early on the designer had
to choose a general contractor with whom they worked well. The same
happened with the general contractor; the contractor was asked to
chose a select few subcontractors early on in the process, showing
the importance of those work relationships in this process (CLICK
HERE for related story).
One webinar listener asked how important BIM knowledge was in selecting
a subcontractor for the project. According to Laura Handler, LEED
AP, with general contractor Tocci Building Cos., "The most important
factor was the quality of the subcontractor." She noted that the
general contractor actually was able to help some subcontractors
in getting started with BIM. "They didn't have to be experts with
the technology; it was not the deciding factor for [choosing] subcontractors,"
In the case of the Autodesk Headquarters, Handler noted that many
of the subcontractors were on board in a design-assist function
from the very beginning. Handler explained that because there was
such detail early on in the design process, Tocci was able to validate
pricing in great detail early on, which helped the general contractor
to keep pricing competitive. With a firm handle on budget, and subcontractor
input, the team was able to pinpoint areas to upgrade from basic
As an example, Vekasy pointed out how an interior office partition
originally specified as a 3-foot door with an 18-inch sidelite was
upgraded to a custom all-glass door and partition. "Because the
team was so integrated, we were able to leverage quality of design
and bring it up a few more notches," she said.
Typically, last-minute changes such as these can result in design
or cost changes. With IPD, "We're able to incorporate it faster
but have to be very cautious on what is the scale of the last-minute
changes," Vekasy commented.
Handler added, "Because the decisions are made together there aren't
as many opportunities for the owner to just throw changes in."
Regarding adoption of IPD, Hoffer polled the listeners on what
they saw as the biggest obstacle and heard, overall, "concerns about
risk associated with changing business models."
Another question that come up frequently in connection to risk
with the BIM tool is ownership of the model following the building
process. "The question of BIM ownership comes up a lot," Handler
agreed. She noted, "We didn't worry about it a lot, but the ownership
went to Autodesk [the building owner] at the end." According to
Handler, "It becomes a non-issue when you start working together."
Also on the topic of liability, when one listener asked who holds
responsibility for OSHA compliance on integrated projects, Handler
responded, "As a team we're all responsible for everything, whether
it's safety or code-compliance." She added, however, that each team
has responsibility for its own area of expertise. "It's really about
giving the work to who's best suited to accomplish it," a point
that seemed to sum up the goal of IPD. By bringing knowledgeable
specialty contractors, such as glazing contractors, onto a project
early, the overall project management is able to benefit.
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