CM at Risk Best for Complex Additions and Renovations
July 25, 2012
Huckabee’s first quarter cost article discussed the pros and cons of the Competitive Sealed Proposal and Construction Manager at Risk delivery methods. As stated, we believe the CM at Risk method is an outstanding choice for school districts constructing complex additions and renovations to existing facilities. A recent example of success using this delivery method is the ongoing renovations and expansion at Georgetown High School in central Texas.
This article will revisit the process Georgetown ISD followed to successfully plan and implement the first major upgrade to their main high school facility, which was originally constructed in 1975. When complete in August 2013, this project will have significantly renovated over 110,000 square feet, added important life safety systems and constructed an additional 66,000 square feet. All of this work will be completed while GISD continues to educate over 2,000 students on the campus.
There is Never Enough Money
To fully understand the benefits that the CM at Risk method offered this project, it is necessary to go back to the start of the planning phase. Both the Board of Trustees and Bond Planning Committee knew it would have been possible to spend between $50 and $60 million to upgrade this facility. However, both groups also knew that was not a realistic budget to be presented to the taxpayers for approval.
Therefore, priorities had to be set and every dollar proactively managed. Once the voters approved a $28 million budget for this project in November 2010, it was time to add a Construction Manager to the planning team. In April, the board approved a contract with a CM after utilizing a 2-step evaluation process.
Understanding Scope & Logistical Challenges
The first step following the CM’s selection was for the entire team to study the scope of the project and the logistical challenges that continuing to operate this campus during construction represented. The initial meeting focused on the schedule and the development of a master phasing plan that was realistic to execute.
Once the phasing plan was developed, the CM began the process of validating the budget in relation to the scope. The phasing plan clearly identified the need to immediately start a portion of the site demolition and construction. One of the greatest advantages of CM at Risk is that it facilitates a phased release of pricing documents. In August, the CM received proposals from sub-contractors that resulted in a contract GMP for this first site development package. The CM received 5 to 7 competitive sub-bids on all of the significant work tasks in this advertisement, and the first GMP awarded was under budget. Work started almost immediately because the CM base contract, insurance and bond requirements were already in place with the district.
Value & Benefit of District Input on On-Site Team Meetings
The overall project is being completed in four major phases. The site package was part of Phase 1 and involved very critical utility relocations and included items that had longer-than-normal lead times for delivery. The balance of the project was advertised in September and pricing was received in October.
Prior to advertising this portion of the project, the planning team held a number of on-site coordination/quality assurance sessions on campus. The ability of the entire team to review specific site conditions was invaluable in the development of well-coordinated and cost-effective pricing documents.
Surprises for the builder after bidding can have a detrimental impact on complex renovation projects on which the CM at Risk delivery method is not used. Time is money. Surprises have not been an issue on this project. It has also been very successful from a budget management perspective, and there have not been any issues related to the ongoing education of students at the campus. Communication and coordination between the CM and campus administration is critical.
The CM at Risk delivery method allowed the administrators to be involved in the planning of the project phases from day one. With respect to the budget, the board approved the second GMP in October, slightly under the amount included in the bond program. The award included two alternates that the district had as high priority needs.
The planning team used multiple alternates to manage the final project cost. In addition, the planning team was able to identify over $1.2 million in cost savings during the bidding process that had no impact on the quality or value of the project.
Today, the entire team involved in the successful execution of the Georgetown High School project unanimously believes that the CM at Risk delivery method was the only way for GISD to go.