CM at Risk vs. Design-Bid-Build

by cbohne on January 31, 2014

WHS Construction Manager to be on Board in Early February

Preparation for the start of the rebuilding of Winchester High School is well underway, as the Education Facilities Planning and Building Committee (EFPBC) has begun the important task of hiring a Construction Manager for the project.

CM-at-Risk vs. Design-Bid-Build

Construction projects typically involve three phases: planning, design and construction.

Traditionally, communities have utilized the Design-Bid-Build approach to school construction projects.  In this method, the three phases run sequentially: the architect prepares a fully detailed design for the project, construction bids are solicited based on the complete bidding documents, and the selected contractor then begins construction. The contractor has no involvement in the process until the construction stage.  The downside to this method is that the contractor does not participate in any value engineering prior to submitting a proposal or contribute to phasing discussions.  In addition, the town is typically required to use the lowest bidder, regardless of quality or reliability.

Winchester will be implementing a Construction Manager at Risk (CM-At-Risk) approach rather than the traditional Design-Bid-Build process for the rebuild of WHS.  Under the CM-at-Risk method (also known as 149A), the owner typically selects construction management company about mid-point in the design stage.  As the design progresses, the construction management team reviews the design (for “constructability”), construction scheduling, and project cost estimates and then in the construction phase serves as the project contractor.

Towards the end of the design stage, the owner and the contact manager negotiate a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) for the project. The contract manager assumes responsibility for the performance of the work, including any subcontractors’ work. The owner is responsible for the payment of work performed plus pre-agreed-upon CM-at-Risk fees up to the GMP.   Change orders resulting from scope changes and unanticipated site conditions encountered during construction may increase the final contract cost, but with smarter collaboration earlier in the design process, these costs can be better avoided. The CM-at-risk model prevents project creep and ensures that the construction manager, rather than the town, bears the burden of meeting the project scope and budget.

To date, three companies were pre-qualified to submit proposals due January 29th.  They include: Turner, Gilbane, and Consigli. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for 6pm, February 4th at the Town Hall and a contract should be awarded on February 7.

Other Activities

For much of January, project architects SMMA have been meeting with school staff to fine tune the unique space needs for each department.  The EFPBC’s sustainability subcommittee continues to develop recommendations for the project to optimize investments in energy efficiencies.

Other design topics to be explored at upcoming EFPBC meetings include: entry schemes, exterior finishing, phasing (2/26), site plan (3/5), mechanical, electric and plumbing systems (3/12) development and interior (3/19) finishes.  Residents are welcome to attend any of the Wednesday evening EFPBC meetings held at Town Hall.

Community members should look for a public meeting in late February that will include an update on the progress to date on these and other topics and will allow residents to weigh in on possible entry and exterior design schemes.

For more information about the Winchester High School Building Project, please visit the website:


Respectfully submitted,

Jim Burrows and Jim Dowd, Skanska Project Management

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