How Does Construction Manager At-Risk Differ from Design-Build?

Authored By: Jerry Rolfson Principal Architect - Director of Architecture
Construction Delivery Methods Benefits

As an architect for over 25 years, I recognize that many different construction delivery options are currently available for prospective owners considering a building project. These methods range from very contractual (Design-Bid-Build or Plan/Spec) to very collaborative (Design-Build) or fall somewhere in between (Construction Manager At-Risk).

The Construction Manager At-Risk (CMAR) construction delivery option attempts to bridge the gap between the limitations of traditional Design-Bid-Build (Plan/Spec) and the collaborative advantages of Design-Build. However, having been heavily involved in both delivery models over my career, there are significant differences and limitations to CMAR when compared to the cohesive, integrated, and collaborative process that is Design-Build.

Before selecting a method, owners must evaluate these five important considerations before choosing a method:

  • Owner Control
  • Owner Relationships
  • Project Budget
  • Project Schedule
  • Owner Risk

The DBIA has an excellent resource article that further defines and provides key considerations for each project delivery method. It also provides insight into why Design-Build can be better for a project in the long run if collaboration, no change orders, and transparency are important factors for the building project.

Jerry Rolfson Principal Architect - Director of Architecture

Choosing a Project Delivery Method

This resource by the Design-Build Institute of America delves into the advantages and disadvantages of project delivery methods. It provides key considerations to help owners choose the right method based on their project goals and priorities.

Choosing a Project Delivery Method

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