Housing Innovation: Contracting the Design and Construction Team Differently

Our second post in a series of blog posts around our deep dive, ‘How to Build More Affordably” and the lessons we learnt. Find the first post and our overview video here.

Written by: Shafraaz Kaba, Principal, ASK For a Better World 

One of the simplest ways to reduce the cost of housing is to consider how design and construction services are contracted or procured from architects, engineers, contractors and trades. For affordable housing, there are far more values-aligned ways to hire the professionals involved in designing and constructing multi-family developments. Instead of the usual practice of first hiring the architect or builder, and then developing drawings that will be priced by trades and inevitably come in over budget, there are new contracting mechanisms that allow for the design and construction team to collaborate together to meet the desired project budget and timeline. 

These include “Progressive Design Build” and “Integrated Project Delivery.”  Both of these methods foster a high degree of collaboration and integration between all team members. Essentially when the trades work directly with the design team understand what they need to build, for how much, and by what date, the entire team works together to accomplish these goals. It takes the guesswork out of a typical tender or bid process where the trades have no interaction whatsoever with the design team.

Lean design and construction is another key aspect of reducing project costs. Unlike manufacturing, the design and construction industries have barely increased in productivity over the last hundred years. The Lean Construction Institute has identified that 70% of projects are over budget and behind schedule. Also, 30% of the materials brought to a construction site are put in the dumpster. This is an embarrassing amount of waste.  Utilizing the methods and team culture of Lean can greatly reduce this waste by smarter specification, ordering of material and on site utilization that not only save costs, but time as well. Lean culture paired with a values-based design and construct method can yield unbelievable savings.

Mike Johnson explains his experience with Lean IPD on a project in this short video:

Here are some resources on Lean Construction, Integrated Project Delivery and Progressive Design Build:

Lean Construction Blog

Integrated Project Delivery Alliance

IDP Action Guide for Leaders

Progressive Design-Build

Edmonton Lean Community of Practice

IDP White Paper: Creating a Zero Carbon Building Under Budget and Ahead of Schedule: IDP Makes it Possible