Category Archives: Education

Happy Birthday, Spearin!

Looking for something different to do this holiday season? Reach out to 100 of your favorite friends and family members, play a single-round game of Family Feud, and ask them to name a U.S. Supreme Court decision. Even if they have had more than their share of spiked eggnog, they will likely have the presence of mind to think about the Kavanaugh hearings and big constitutional and social issues. I suspect that the overwhelming number one answer will be Roe v. Wade. Maybe Bush v. Gore will show up on the list. But will anyone mention U.S. v. Spearin? Be honest. Did that decision ever cross your mind? Did you even know that the Spearin Doctrine – our country’s most important construction law doctrine – was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court?

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Topics: Construction Law, Education.

Why Do Design-Build Projects Go Wrong?

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from projects that go smoothly and according to plan and budget. But what about those projects that don’t go so well? The lessons gleaned from budget mishaps, contract issues, and first-time design-build experiences can be just as valuable. While not easily covered in 700 words or less, let’s look at a few of the reasons we have seen DB projects go wrong.

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Topics: Best Practices, Design-Build, Education.

Addressing the Craft Labor Shortage

“Can we fix it? Yes, we can!” If you raised a child in the early 2000s you may be hearing the enthusiastic proclamation from the popular animated children’s series Bob the Builder echoing in your ears at this very moment. The series featured Bob, the resident builder, his partners, and a fleet of talking yellow iron. Bob the Builder was my daughter’s favorite show – her favorite character was Scoop, a backhoe loader, or an “I-Dig-Dirt,” as she called it. As a descendant of a proud line of craft laborers including legacy carpenters, crane operators, and yes, even a large backhoe operator, I entertained the thought that maybe, just maybe, my daughter might land in the construction industry, spurred by her admiration of the determined and optimistic Bob and his talking fleet of yellow iron.

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Topics: Craft Labor, Design-Build, Education, Flatiron.

What Decisions are Needed to Prepare Your Organization to Use Design-Build Delivery?

The questions most often raised by utilities or agencies who want to pursue design-build delivery for their pending project range from “What are the decisions I need to make in the procurement process?” to “How do I prepare my organization to make the right decisions about the best collaborative delivery approach for my project?” Answers to these questions, which were addressed recently in an education session with a large metropolitan utility, also provide the opportunity for us to share the results of WDBC’s 2017 research on what public officials say they have learned from pursuing a design-build project.

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Topics: Design-Build, Education, WDBC Admin.

Could You Pass a Quiz on Design-Build Terms?

  Last week I reviewed a presentation featuring design-build concepts and methodology. Actually, I had to read it twice, because most of the terms in the document are no longer being used – and I was stymied as to how to approach the author with constructive feedback. While startling coming from a government official, it is not an unfamiliar situation. I hear similar outdated language and address questions about the terms used for design-build delivery methods at WDBC’s education sessions all the time.  

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Topics: Design-Build, Education, WDBC Admin.

What are the Differences Between Collaborative and Design-Bid-Build Delivery?

The water design-build industry defines collaborative-delivery methods as approaches to procuring and delivering a capital project that involve close collaboration among the owner, the designer, and the contractor—from design through completion. These include construction management at-risk(CMAR), both fixed-price and progressive design-build, design-build-operate (DBO), and public-private partnerships (P3).

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Topics: Collaborative Delivery, Design-Build, Education, WDBC Admin.

Where Do I Get a Contract to Use for my Design-Build Project – and What Does This “Off-Ramp” Mean?

If you’ve ever attended one of the WDBC education sessions, you’ll recall that instructor Mark Alpert likes to immediately inform you that there are some key terms he is going to be persistent in getting you to remember: GMP, RTFC, off-ramp, and a few others. The reason he is so persistent is that without a good contract in place, and understanding what the terms in the document mean, the project is definitely going to encounter unforeseen issues. But we also learn in these sessions that there are often numerous misunderstandings about how to approach the contracting process and the dynamics that occur, potentially leading to the “off-ramp.” When an organization attempts to “retrofit” their existing contracts or doesn’t know where to locate a good template or model, the problems begin.

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Topics: Contracts, Education, Off-Ramp, WDBC Admin.

How Can Education Address Impediments in Using Design-Build/CMAR Delivery for Water and Wastewater Projects?

Primarily due to efficiencies with schedules and the overall work process for both utility owners and municipalities during the past five years, the use of design-build and CMAR delivery for water and wastewater projects has increased. As the WDBC’s recent research report revealed, the use of collaborative delivery methods is continuing to gain significant momentum in the water sector because of the education process. The other good news is that WDBC’s research data shows that external impediments – such as legislative and regulatory requirements – are decreasing and progress continues within the states on that specific challenge.

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Topics: CMAR, Design-Build, Education, WDBC Admin.

What Are the Financial Trends of Municipalities in Funding Water and Sewer Projects?

A featured topic of discussion at the recent August ACEC Environment & Energy Committee meeting was Identifying Financial Trends from federal, state, and private/public partnership (P3) sources. Committee members sought to gain insight and perspective from other groups and organizations also in attendance (Council of Mayors, WDBC, engineering and financial firms).

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Topics: Education, P3, Wastewater Infrastructure/Treatment, Water Infrastructure/Treatment, WDBC Admin.

Design-Build Delivery: Not Just for ‘Big’ Water Projects

Quite often, many of the examples of publicized projects about design-build delivery are larger projects – which is not always an accurate representation of what is going on in the industry. For instance, a few months ago, I was partaking in my normal perusing of Google alerts for online items relating to projects in the water sector, when I spotted an intriguing newspaper headline from a small Ohio village.

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Topics: Collaborative Delivery, Design-Build, Education, WDBC Admin.