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How to Get Total Quality Management from Design-Build

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Southern Californians appreciate convenience as much as anyone else, but their expectations are also high when it comes to quality.

That is partly why design-build is an attractive option for building (or remodeling) a home in the region -- you get best of both.

Design-Build is a project delivery system with a record of reducing overall project costs and bringing capital facilities on-line more rapidly. But its true value may be in the cultural changes if it effects in the process. 

Other design and build processes include third party relationships, owner contracts with design consultant and then owner contracts with builder. Each party has their own agenda and concerns, which frequently do not mesh. 

Unfortunately, this can hamper the quality of work.

Quality control, the quality standards imposed by the project plans, specifications and quality assurance, ensure or “assure” that these quality standards are being met, play an important role in the design-build process. 

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As a homeowner, one of your greatest concerns in the design-build process is the apparent lack of a “gatekeeper” to ensure that you are receiving a quality project. 

In the more conventional design-bid-build-type project, the architect, as the owner’s agent, is your assurance. When a construction manager or owner’s representative is on board, quality issues will be part of their responsibilities. But in any case, the design-build team needs to pay more than lip service to quality. 

The collective knowledge of the designers and the contractors, working together during conceptual development, possibly enhanced by specialty contractor input, should by its very nature reduce or eliminate “constructability issues.” 

The design-build design development process generally includes a guarantee of performance, particularly in the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing design thereby motivating the design-build team to meet or exceed the standards required by the owner of a project. 

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Procedures for including quality in the design should be outlined in the very beginning of the design phase, given the level of quality is often a function of the complexity of the project.

These quality expectations must then be communicated during design-development meetings, which are attended by the architect, engineer, builder, subcontractors, material and equipment vendors. 

What Your Design-Build Contractor Should Do to Ensure Total Quality Management

The concept of total quality management (TQM) is one that can also be rather easily incorporated into the design-build process. There is quality of design and quality of construction, but there are other quality issues that relate to TQM: 

  • An orderly review, resolution, and execution of the design-build contract. 
  • Well-organized and disciplined meetings between the design-team and the owner during the project’s genesis to complete the required work in an orderly fashion quickly recognizing the fact that everyone’s time is valuable.
  • Conduct organized meetings during construction where questions are received, reviewed, and responded to quickly.
  • Prepare monthly requisitions to the owner, on time, and with sufficient documentation that will allow their prompt review.
  • When the requirement for change orders arises, furnish the owner with sufficient detailed information to allow for a complete understanding of the nature of the change and its related cost.
  • Approach all close-out procedures promptly and professionally to complete the project in a timely manner, including commissioning.

As owners, architects, and builders learn to work together and respect each other’s concerns and desires, the cultural differences of the past are slowly melting away. 

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When the job is well done, you’ll appreciate this “one-stop-shopping” process where you and your design-build contractor can work in an open environment pursuing a common goal -- your perfect project. 


Topics: Case Study