Aerial view of Southwest Water Reclamation Facility in St. Petersburg, Florida.

January 6, 2021

Savings and Certainty are Hallmarks of Haskell’s CMAR Delivery 

The Construction Manager at Risk is retained during preliminary design and provides valuable insight on budget and constructability.

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As it undertook the first project in its history, a 100-unit apartment complex in Atlantic Beach, Florida, the Preston H. Haskell Company operated in the role of Construction Manager at-Risk (CMAR). No one called it that at the time, but that was the highly valuable function Haskell served.

“The owner asked our relatively new little company to make sure that the architect’s final construction documents were properly engineered for constructability, price, schedule, etc.,” founder Preston Haskell recalled. “He had a budget of $10 a square foot, which today would be the equivalent of about $100 a square foot. He had 100 units that were about 1,000 square feet each, so it was a $1 million project, and by golly, the final bill was for $1 million.”

More than five decades later, the company name is shorter, but Haskell still regularly practices the delivery method referred to in the industry as CMAR.

In the traditional design-bid-build delivery method, the project owner hires the designers to create a complete set of plans and specifications, then hand off to the contractor that submits the lowest bid. The architects, engineers and builders have differing motivations, and the owner pays the price, often literally.

By contrast, in the CMAR approach, the owner contracts directly with architects and engineers but typically retains the contractor when design development is fairly preliminary, meaning the contractor can advise on matters of budget, constructability, evaluating different design approaches – all of which affect cost and performance.

CMAR delivery assures the owner that potential issues associated with constructability will be addressed during design, provides the owner a guaranteed maximum price (GMP), and proactively addresses potential issues associated with constructability to help the owner save money without sacrificing quality.

Haskell approaches its CMAR responsibilities by adopting its clients’ goals as its own and concentrating on providing the greatest value possible.

“On average, we have been able to deliver more than 7.5 percent savings to projects through owner-accepted value engineering (VE), well in excess of our CMAR fee,” said Bryan Bedell, Haskell Vice President and Water Division Leader.

True VE, however, is not simply a matter of cutting costs or reducing scope. A well-planned and well-executed VE process can improve a project without sacrificing its essential integrity.

In addition to savings during preconstruction, the Haskell team creates savings during the project lifecycle through efficient and effective project execution. Partnering completely with owners avoids the barriers that traditional delivery presents.

Haskell’s experienced and focused project teams have a track record of delivering projects of all sizes on time, within budget and at the highest quality.

“Our extensive experience in collaborative delivery means that we can ensure the success of any size project,” Bedell said. “We develop accurate cost estimates, identify value-engineering alternatives and conduct extensive constructability and operability reviews based on our previous project experience, as well as the client’s specific needs and goals.”

Another case in point, 50 years removed from that first apartment complex project and on an exponentially larger scale, demonstrates the same CMAR efficiency and certainty of delivery.

Officials in St. Petersburg, Florida, wanted to turn the city’s biosolids management into an emerging form of revenue at its Southwest Water Reclamation Facility. As the project’s CMAR, Haskell modified the facility to produce Class AA biosolids (the highest quality). Both the Class AA biosolids, which met the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guidelines for fertilizer, and the biogas created could be sold to generate additional revenue. The biogas also could be used to power the plant.

Preliminary design for the project showed all facilities constructed on structural piles. Instead, Haskell’s geotechnical investigation identified that alternative foundations could be used in some cases. That and other VE options produced savings of $10 million, which kept the project on track and within budget with no change in scope or functionality.

“Haskell’s greatest asset is our people,” Bedell said. “We’re large enough to undertake most projects yet nimble enough to deliver even smaller projects when needed. The specialization Haskell brings to every project better equips us to deliver results. Haskell has a superior record of delivering projects on time, within budget with the highest quality.”

To ensure that maximum value is created through the VE process, the following are critical components of success:

  • Early contractor involvement; selection of the CMAR firm can occur in parallel with the design services
  • Willingness of all parties to listen to new ideas
  • Giving careful consideration of all options, always with the project’s goals in mind
  • Having design flexibility to incorporate suggested VE items

Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,800 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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