Hensel Phelps’ Lindholm Promotes Design-Build’s Potential
As construction costs rise, California’s general contractors are always looking for a way to build quality buildings on time and on budget.
For years, America has used the traditional design-bid-build process while other nations have adopted the design-bid process, which has saved dollars and shortened timelines. Only in recent years have American builders begun to use the design-build process, yet it still is only used on a handful of projects.
But change is inevitable, according to members of the Design-Build Institute of America.
Washington, D.C.-based DBIA is a membership organization founded in 1993 to advocate and advance single source project delivery within the design and construction community. The design-build method of project delivery embraces architecture/engineering and construction services under a single contract, thereby re-integrating the roles of designer and constructor.
DBIA members include practitioners from all project phases, plus public- and private-sector project owners
California Construction recently talked with Wayne Lindholm, vice president at the Southern California district of Hensel Phelps and a DBIA board member. He was asked about some of the challenges in expanding the design build method and the promise it holds.
Lindholm graduated from Colorado State University in 1975 with a Bachelors degree in construction management. He started as a field engineer with Hensel Phelps 30 years ago and worked through all positions of management, moving regularly and tackling the toughest projects available.
In 1989 he opened the Southern California office and helped build an organization that has consistently built $200 million-$400 million in construction each year. His staff includes 140 salaried professionals and 200 craftspeople.
California Construction: How large is design-build?
Wayne Lindholm: In America, it has taken off. In California, we are still struggling. Just about any state is wide open for design build. We’re getting bypassed by other states. Sadly to say, California is still in the dark ages.
CC: What are the benefits of using design-build?
WL: Everybody is happier. The job gets done faster, which means the savings run from 10% to 20%. The UC system won’t do a different process.
CC: Why is design-build so effective?
WL: You identify what your budget hurdles are and it allows you to do course correction early. You’re in there together.
CC: What are some of the difficulties in getting the design-build process done in California?
WL: Labor agreements, labor standards. When we try to change the public contracting code, unions ask that it be all union labor.
CC: When will we see design-build incorporated in California?
WL: We may never see it. AIA, AGC and ABC and BIA -- we are starting meetings to get something moving forward. Labor has control.
CC: What else can be done?
WL: We’ve got to get more owners stepping up to do something. Cities and municipalities, too.
CC: What amount of design-build is done in the U.S. and in California?
WL: Arizona passed sweeping design-build legislation a few years ago. It is now 70% to 80% of that state’s public works. In California, you’re lucky to get 3%. That’s a gut feeling. We’re doing design-build work for the UCs, the feds and some cities.
CC: What are the effects if California doesn’t have design-build?
WL: The taxpayer will pay 10% to 15% more and it will go slower.
CC: Do general contractors look for design-build work?
WL: You look for the expertise within the owner. You have to have an engaged owner who understands it.
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