Bridging Offers Building Owners Advantages in Project Contracts

March 20, 2012

Building owners hold the reins in a construction project delivery method called bridging.

The practice places the ultimate responsibility for design and construction on the contractor in an agreement that resembles a design-build contract. However, unlike the typical design-build agreement, bridging protects the owner’s interests from day one.

The owner’s design consultant (also known as a bridging architect) protects all aspects of the design and specifications that the owner deems important, but still leaves design-build contractors with the opportunity to use their skill sets and capabilities to ensure the best total price and time of completion, according to the newly founded Bridging Institute of America, an organization seeking to educate architects, consulting engineers, and program managers about the method.

Compared to other popular methods, such as design-bid-build, design-build, and CM-at-Risk, the institute believes bridging is best suited to protect the best interests of the owner.

For example, design-bid-build is often used due to its logical, orderly process and its wide familiarity throughout the industry. The owner has a firm price in hand based on the complete contract documents (final drawings and specifications) before construction is authorized.

However, bridging advocates argue that this process is time-consuming and obtaining a reasonably dependable total price is costly, according to the Bridging Institute. The price is based on the contract documents being free of errors and omissions, which may not always be the case.

The Institute believes bridging results in a more dependable construction price by reducing the owner’s exposure to contractor-initiated change orders, which can drive up the final construction price. This method can save 4-5% or more and provide the owner with a fixed price in about half the typical time at half the typical design cost. For more on bridging, visit www.bridginginstitute.org.

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