Thanks to Missouri State Statute 67.5050 enacted in August 2016, Missouri schools have more options to find the delivery method that fits their construction needs. The statute added construction manager at risk (CMAR), as well as design-build, to the list of authorized construction methods and it has been gaining popularity for school projects across the state ever since.
Construction management (CM) has been a successful capital project delivery method for decades, but until the passage of RSMo 67.5050, schools in Missouri were limited to the design-bid-build, construction manager as agent (CMA), and owner’s representative delivery methods.
Now, districts can choose CMAR which allows them to take control of the selection of their construction partner, ensure a completely transparent view of project finances, mitigate budget risk, and ensure flexibility within the budget to make informed decisions during design to improve the quality and performance of the finished product.
Control of Partner Selection
The CMAR is hired through a two-step qualifications and cost selection process. This means that rather than being required to award a contract to a low bid general contractor, the district is able to select a CMAR based on their experience in the K-12 market and collaborative approach to working with the district and the design team to provide the best overall value to the project.
The district, design team, and construction partner (CM) work together throughout design and construction to deliver the most value for the budget, whether that be more efficient building systems, alternative building materials, more effective educational space layout, enhanced STEM lab capabilities, quality of interior finishes, accelerated completion schedule, or overall experience for the district.
As a public school district, prudent and transparent use of taxpayer’s money is imperative. That’s why the district’s CMAR provides an open book view of all project financials as well as an understanding and approach to avoiding or mitigating financial risk.
A typical construction project is comprised of multiple trade contractors completing their category of work on the project. The CMAR is responsible for competitively bidding out each of these categories of work and conducting a public bid opening where trade contractors’ bids are read aloud, recorded, and become public information.
The CMAR then interviews one or more bidders in each category and compiles a team that gets the district the best value from multiple bids in each of up to 20-25 categories of work, depending on the size and complexity of the project.
The initial project budget will be set early in design by the district, the architect’s design team, and the CM. The overall budget may not change as design progresses, but as progressive design decisions are made by the team, dollars can be re-allocated across categories of work—for example, from electrical to mechanical, from roofing to flooring, or from site work to IT. Dollars can also be re-allocated between categories of work to select building systems that may have a higher initial cost but lower life-cycle cost, or to improve the quality of interior finishes. Input from the CMAR during design is much more cost-effective than the design-bid-build method of making changes after completed plans are bid out and ready for construction.
Control, transparency, flexibility are three valuable reasons why school districts across Missouri are taking advantage of the CMAR delivery method. As more districts experience the successful team experience a construction manager at risk offers, this delivery method will only continue to gain traction. Keep an eye on districts that are moving forward with the CMAR delivery method to learn from their successes.