A Contract Fit for Complex Construction Projects

When it comes to construction, getting the job done accurately, safely, on time, and within budget is paramount. Of course, no project is exactly the same. And for that reason, there are multiple construction contracts that can be used to complete projects of varying complexities, sizes, and costs.

While every contract or delivery method, as it’s referred to in the construction industry, includes similar elements such as planning, design, and building, the construction management at-risk (CM@R) delivery method takes a unique approach that can be beneficial to organizations that lack the bandwidth and staff to manage large, complex projects.

Here are some reasons why the CM@R delivery method could be the right option for your next construction project.

CM@R provides an advocate at every project stage

CM@R is a delivery method in which the project owner hires a construction manager (CM) to oversee the project from design to close-out. The construction manager works on the owner’s behalf to help value engineer, discover cost-saving opportunities throughout the project, and ensure on-time delivery.

While other project delivery methods such as design-bid-build and design build are better suited for construction projects that are less complicated and schedule sensitive, CM@R takes the burden off the owner to manage and keep more complex jobs moving smoothly. Since contractors are involved early in the process to help formulate design and procure long-lead items early, change orders are less likely to occur. With today’s supply chain challenges adding increased risk, proactively identifying potential issues through CM@R can help avoid cost escalations and project delays.

CM@R ensures cost efficiencies

The phrase, “You get what you pay for” certainly applies to the world of construction. It is a common misperception that obtaining multiple project bids and opting for the lowest offer is the best route to go. However, this strategy does not necessarily yield the highest quality product or long-term savings. For example, if the contractor is not involved during the early design phase, which can occur in low bid situations, any discrepancies that result in change orders and cost increases later will be the responsibility of the owner.

CM@R projects are delivered with a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), which is a set amount the owner will pay their contractor or subcontractor, regardless of actual costs sustained throughout the project. Costs that exceed the Guaranteed Maximum Price are covered by the construction manager, so the owner may benefit financially if the project is completed under budget. A Guaranteed Maximum Price incentivizes contractors to monitor projects closely and stay on schedule.

CM@R enhances project quality and reduces risk

Abraham Lincoln famously said, “If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.” Similarly, construction managers brought into a project early invest the extra time to ensure every aspect of a project is dialed in upfront. This will deliver the best quality and reduce rework. The CM@R method also helps expedite the design and preconstruction processes. The construction manager and subcontractors can more accurately estimate costs and allocate the proper resources to dedicate to the project before construction starts.

Riley’s proprietary InSTEP® system aligns with the CM@R method to create a more seamless, accurate, and efficient construction process from start to finish, especially when expectations are set from the beginning.

The CM@R model features early involvement of contractors and subcontractors, which allows proper resource allocation while placing more attention on the project and minimizing the risk of items slipping through the cracks. Additionally, Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies such as clash detection allow teams to review the design and determine mechanical or plumbing issues early on, thereby avoiding errors or rework.

CM@R builds trust, transparency, and accountability

With the CM@R method, the project owner, design team, and construction manager experience an open flow of communication, which is key for implementing design changes before it becomes more costly. The method creates synergies throughout the process, increases project speed and strengthens collaboration. Project budgets are also visible to all stakeholders, which prevents confusion or combative relationships and leads to better cost controls. Clarity and communication across the team are essential since the construction manager is held accountable for quality standards throughout the project while the architect is responsible for monitoring the design implementation in the field.

Listen to how CM@R made the project easier for James Keegan, Chief of Police for the City of St. Charles, IL

CM@R in action: St. Charles Police Department

The St. Charles, Illinois Police Department recently worked with Riley Construction to redesign their headquarters. The CM@R method was implemented for this project, generating on-time and on-budget delivery and, of course, a satisfied client. Watch Police Chief James Keegan’s testimonial below.

At Riley Construction, we always act in our clients’ best interest, advising them on the optimal delivery method based on their unique project specifications. Every day, we follow our HIFI values — humility, integrity, flexibility, and initiative — to establish trusting partnerships with our customers and the community.

Click on our Project Delivery Methods chart for a detailed view of the benefits and challenges of each delivery method →

To learn whether the CM@R delivery method is right for your upcoming construction project, please feel free to reach out to Project Development Manager Alex Egan (alexe@rileycon.com) for more information.