Canadian Consulting Engineer

Agreement reached on design-build by construction industry and federal government

November 23, 2001
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

A joint task force comprised of construction industry and federal government departments has set out the principles...

A joint task force comprised of construction industry and federal government departments has set out the principles for selecting a design-builder. Design-Build is a relatively new approach employed in the construction industry and has been the cause of some friction and concern as it changes many of the traditional relationships between the owner, architect, consulting engineers and contractor. Instead of hiring the architect or engineer to design the project, and hiring a contractor separately to build it, the owner hires a party to do both jobs as one package: hence “design-build.”
While this method suits owners who want “one-stop shopping” at a relatively fixed price, it means that a consulting engineer or architect can be working under the direction of a contractor-builder. Not only is this a reversal of their traditional roles, it can also place the professional designer in an awkward position of being in a conflict of professional interest.
Another major point of contention has been over the extensive work often required to submit a design-build proposal for construction projects. Often the proponents, including the consulting engineers on the team, are asked to do substantial preparatory work, but if their team does not get the job, then the consultants may not receive any payment for the work.
The Joint Industry-Government of Canada Task Force on Design-Build has tried to sort out some of these issues. The statement released in November sets out principles for the proper selection of a design builder that were unanimously accepted by the task force’s participants.
The principles cover such areas as the selection process, remuneration, intellectual property, request for proposal documents, and the need for standard contract usage.
On remuneration, for example, the statement says that the owner shall pay all the design-build teams it invites to submit proposals, and the remuneration shall reflect the amount of effort the proponents, have to make to fulfil the submission requirements. The remuneration is to be “at least 50% of a reasonable estimate of the costs” for the submission including professional fees and the design-builder’s costs and expenses.
The new guidelines should clarify the design-build process, which is increasingly being used by government departments to realize their building and infrastructure projects. Bruce Lorimer, director general of architectural and engineering services at Public Works and Government Services Canada, said “The release of this document signals the belief on the part of our respective organizations that clarity and understanding were needed in the design-build process.”
The Joint Industry-Government of Canada Task Force on Design-Build consisted of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada, the Canadian Construction Association, the Canadian Design Build Institute, Construction Specifications Canada, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Defence Construction Canada, Department of National Defence, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and Public Works and Government Services Canada.


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