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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Costabile

Understanding CM/GC. Pt. 1 - Methodology

In 2023, local and state agencies continue to grapple with the dual challenges of aging infrastructure and population growth. In concert, the complexity and value of public works projects have sharply risen in response to increased regulation and market dynamics.

In this environment, traditional procurement methods like Design-Bid-Build are increasingly joined by innovative Alternative Project Delivery (APD) models, including Design-Build (DB), Progressive Design-Build (PDB), Public-Private Partnerships (P3), and Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC).

One of the most widely adopted APD models is CM/GC. This article, part of Mission Critical's "Alternative Project Delivery 101" series, explores the key components of CM/GC, reviews the CM/GC procurement process, and summarizes the benefits of this innovative APD method.

What is CM/GC?

Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) project delivery integrates planning, design, and construction. In CM/GC, the project Owner selects the Contractor through a qualifications-based procurement process.

During the project's design or "preconstruction" phase, the contractor acts as the Construction Manager (CM). In this role, the contractor offers consulting and analysis, providing insights into the feasibility and pricing of different design options and identifying potential risks and solutions to constructability and delivery challenges.

As the design advances through the preconstruction phase, the Contractor provides the Owner and Designer with Opinion of Probable Construction Cost (OPCC) estimates at established milestones. OPCC estimates support the cost/benefit analysis of options and decisions and help the entire project delivery team assess the project's current cost vs. the projected budget or Engineer's Estimate. OPCC data and estimates are refined into a final, comprehensive cost to construct the project. Although quite rare, if the Owner and Contractor cannot agree on the final cost to build the project, the Owner may exercise the option to re-solicit the project using a traditional Design-Bid-Build method.

On acceptance of the final cost, the Owner issues a Notice to Proceed for the construction phase, and the Contractor then assumes the role of General Contractor (GC) and builds the project, using plans developed during the preconstruction phase that include the best means and methods for construction paired with solutions to manage and mitigate construction risks.

Critical Components of CM/GC

Early Collaboration and Integration

Constructability Reviews and Iterative Cost Estimation

Risk Identification, Management, and Mitigation

Value Engineering and Innovation

Owner Design Control

Shared Responsibility and Joint Actions

Overlapping Design and Construction

CM/GC emphasizes integration during the preconstruction phase and sets the stage for a more cohesive and efficient project lifecycle. By fostering collaboration, enhancing communication, encouraging innovation, and enabling real-time decision-making, CM/GC streamlines the transition from design to construction.

Using the Contractor's knowledge and expertise, this integrated approach can significantly reduce risks and costs for complex or technically challenging projects while meeting the Owner's goals with precision and creativity.

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Mission Critical partners with firms new to writing or developing Alternative Project Delivery pursuits and Top 400 firms focusing on their next big infrastructure project.


To discuss your Alternative Project Delivery pursuit goals with Mission Critical, please contact RoAnn Thorne, Principal. 

RoAnn Thorne, STP, ENV SP
(602) 833-8673

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