Clients adopt a contracting model dependent on the risk profile of their project. This can be influenced by the project’s technical complexity, the existence of high community and environmental sensitivities, or simply the sheer scale of what is to be delivered.


While there are many ways to manage a project’s risk, DMA Partners Associate Director John Dobrenov is a strong advocate of the Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) model, where clients reap the rewards of introducing real world constructability into the process as early on as the schematic design phase.


“By bringing the builder on board early to work with the design team and the client, ECI improves buildability outcomes and de-risks the construction process for both the client and contractor,” John said.


“ECI starts as a collaborative process, creating an environment and ‘one team’ culture that amplifies the opportunities to innovate.


“Solutions to complex issues derived from technical complexities or working within highly urbanised environments can be identified and rigorously assessed by the builder, designer and client as a team focussed on delivering a best-for-project outcome.


“Essentially you look ahead at what may impact the project during construction, explore options and ‘design in’ alternatives at the earliest point in time.”


Given the significant benefits that can be delivered through ECI, it’s no wonder it is a favourable procurement model that has been adopted on many Queensland projects over the past decade, across both building and civil infrastructure.


John said that once the ECI phase is over, the design is costed and the project typically converts to a more traditional Design and Construction (D&C) model as it moves through into the delivery phase.


“Once all the smarts are incorporated into the design, and the documentation is complete, the builder is able to comprehensively price the project, and often develop detailed management plans at this point as well,” John said.


John also said that it’s important to recognise which procurement model suits a project’s risk profile and delivers the greatest benefit for a client.


As we all know, it’s not one size fits all in construction.


“When we work with our clients we walk through the varying procurement models with them including fixed lump sum, D&C, construction management, managing contractor, and ECI before advising which method we believe will best suit them in terms of risk allocation, time and programme.


“Where we believe there is significant opportunity to influence the design, cost and program early, we would propose ECI to introduce construction ‘smarts’ into the project where they will have the greatest benefit,” said John.


In recent years, DMA Partners has done just this.


“We have implemented the ECI model on a number of projects with our clients including the Brisbane Broncos High Performance Training Centre, The Calile Hotel on James Street, and Yamanto Central. All of these projects presented challenges that were resolved with great benefits through ECI.


“For example, working with the builders we have been able to rationalise structural elements and significantly reduce transfer slabs and construction costs.


“Reduce construction timeframes through early detailed sequencing and constructability reviews.


“Implement robust Construction Management Plans that consider early stage documentation and approvals that have allowed teams to mobilise to site earlier.


“Include D&C Services trade contractors early to provide integrated and practical solutions to services designs and layouts.”


DMA Partners has extensive experience across all phases of a project’s lifecycle. We understand that important decisions made during design not only influence cost and program, but also whole-of-life maintenance and asset management costs.


As our client’s development partner, we offer the breadth of our experience and our commitment to not only deliver their project with them; but deliver a project that is commercially-led by putting in place a well-defined and robust project strategy from day one.