Article Date: 11/22/2013

Loulakis Discusses Best Practices for Design-Build Projects

By Steve Rizer


Before deciding whether or not to use the design-build project delivery system, an owner should conduct “a thoughtful, proactive, and objective assessment of the unique characteristics of its program/project and its organization.” This is one of the design-build procurement “best practices” that Capital Project Strategies LLC President Michael Loulakis discussed during “Design-Build Done Right; Design-Build Done Wrong,” a 90-minute webinar that WPL Publishing held last week.


“So, for owners to really be effective” in deciding whether to use design-build, they need to know what their organization “looks like” and determine whether they can “do the things that are required to make design-build work,” Loulakis told the webinar audience.


Here are two other design-build procurement best practices Loulakis discussed:

  • “An owner should implement a procurement plan that will enhance the collaborative and other benefits of design-build, with the procurement plan being in harmony with the reasons that the owner chose the design-build delivery system.” In implementing this best practice, Loulakis recommended focusing heavily on qualifications rather than price. It is also important to, among other things, encourage early involvement of key specialty trade contractors, minimize use of prescriptive requirements, maximize use of performance-based requirements, and limit proposal deliverables.
  • “An owner using a competitive design-build procurement process should ensure that the process is fair, open, and transparent, using clear evaluation and selection processes.” When implementing this best practice, Loulakis suggested performing appropriate front-end work to assist both the owner and proposers, using shortlists for two-phase procurements, using confidential meetings with shortlisted proposers, and providing unsuccessful shortlisted proposers with reasonable stipends.

In addition to the three procurement best practices, Loulakis also reported three contracting best practices and four execution best practices for design-build projects, advice that the Design-Build Institute of America is including in a publication entitled “Design-Build Done Right: Best Design-Build Practices,” which the organization hopes to finalize next February.


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