by Mike Murphy, editor-in-chief

People were talking, listening, and learning at the recent Design/Build Seminar in Orlando, FL, December 3 - 5.

"This is the best two-day investment you can make if you are a Design/Build mechanical contractor interested in improving your business."
Todd Morgan, P.E., President, Comprehensive Energy Services

"This was a great experience spending time with fellow contractors, engineers, and vendors that have a common goal to take Design/Build to another level."
Ted Hunt, Special Project Accounts Air Systems Engineering, Inc.

Taking it to the next level may sound almost as cliche as the often-used raise the bar became as the HVAC industry rode a wave of consolidation. However, Ted Hunt's thoughts are quite sincere.

A common thread tied nearly 200 attendees during the 2003 Design/Build Seminar, together -- finding ways to enhance the mechanical design delivery process for commercial buildings. Attending contractors and engineers worked toward solutions that provide better quality jobs that are on-schedule and on-budget.

What is the difference between the benefits that Design/Build can provide to building owners compared to other delivery process choices? For that answer you might first take a walk back in time.

In centuries past the master builder was hired by a facility owner to design, engineer, and construct an entire facility. In short, the master builder had complete control of the design and construction of a facility. Subsequently, changes in technology and the increasing sophistication in buildings required specialization of design and construction services. The evolution of construction delivery processes had begun.

Today, we must ask ourselves: has the evolution, from complete control by a master builder to the current hodge-podge in the marketplace, really served facility owners well? Or, is it simply bringing about more confusion?

During the past five to 10 years, the battle for control of building construction has often resulted in a distortion of Design/Build by those who want to control the process. The Design/Build Seminar is critical to the future of the Design/Build contracting. The theme of the meeting was Take Back the Process. It's an encouragement for mechanical contractors and engineers to take a close look at project delivery, specifically Design/Build.

During the recent commercial construction slump, many jobs that should have been Design/Build have turned into design-
assist or design/bid/build jobs. This often resulted in lower profit margins for contractors and projects that were less likely to make owners happy at the conclusion. Yet it seems Design/Build still accounts for 30 to 40% of new construction, not to mention renegotiated, over-budget jobs where contractors are typically asked to come up with an in-budget design.

Design/Build is on the rise. During the coming months, you'll have the opportunity to read excerpts from the Design/Build Seminar in Orlando. In fact, Richard Almini, president of Legacy Mechanical & Energy Services is featured this month as he recounts his experiences as a consolidated contractor. The wave he was riding turned into a roller coaster.

Mark your calendars now for December 2004. The stage is set for the 2004 Design/Build Seminar, at the Marriott World Center, Orlando, FL.