• Duane C. Barney

Collaborative construction is not Design/Build while the traditional design-then-build does not win

Collaborative construction is analogous to a football team with five distinct entities dedicated to winning the Super Bowl. Design built contractually blurs the lines of expertise and contractual responsibility. We will use Pro football as the format because (1) I like football and (2) it best represents the team approach needed in construction to win.

For the football analogy lets first define the rules and prime players.

Rules: the construction contract rules are being plated under a cost plus a fixed fee. A fair contract designed for team play

Opponent: As always, the opponent is “time, quality and money”, all three will hit the field time and again to throw us off our game.

Everyone is on the same team, so offense and defense are not opponents

Owner: This player remains the same, the person with the funds who wants to win a super bowl ring


Head coach: Owners representative (Read DCBuilds) Charged with representing the owner’s interests in building, coaching, and directing the team to the end. The Owners rep has the knowledge and expertise to guide the team in areas the owner is lacking. Owner/Head coach is passé.


Offensive head coach: for social norms, we will designate this role to the architect, they manage with a bit more finesse



Defensive head coach: This is the general contractor – a rougher but hard-working group.


Special Teams: The are the outside consultants, Interior designers, lawyers, landscape architects, acoustical consultant, etc. All part of the team but are called to play when their specific services are needed.


Time to play, first everyone works for the owner, but to win we need to build the team. As head coach, the Owners Representative should be the first hire. They will assist in building out the rest of the team, work on land acquisition, site development, government approvals, etc. (This team needs a stadium to play in) while advising the owner.


The second and third hires are the architect and the contractor, in that order. The architect is needed first to define the scope of working with the Owner’s Representative, to develop the game plan. The contractor is brought on to assist in the process with expertise in pricing and implementation. Each has their specific area of expertise, and should not be combined, the distinction sharpens the other and provides a clear line of contractual responsibilities for the owner.

The opponent is “time, quality and money” so to develop an effective game plan, input from the head coaches will be invaluable in achieving a win.

The final players are for special teams they will be brought on as needed based on the game plan and specific needs to round out the.


All of the key players are necessary throughout the game for a winning strategy, You cannot play offense for the entire first half and then sit down and say ok, defense it’s your turn; we did our job, got some point on the board, we will step in if you need help. The game is played from beginning to end, with all of the players working together, when the offense is on the field, defense is working on their plan to win based on field position and the strengths of the opponent all while cheering the offence for their best performance, likewise while offense is on the bench. All the while the head coach is taking the game in, as a whole, while working with the two head coaches to develop the best winning strategy and deciding when to call a timeout and bring in the special teams.


It is a team effort, everyone working together for the same objective. Each element has their own responsibilities and brings specific talents to the table knowledge that will bring about a win. The opponent” time, quality and money” is a tough opponent and has many trick plays that will keep everyone working hard, but a team effort is a winning strategy.



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