CM At-Risk Projects Becoming Preferred Choice for Universities, Governments

CM At-Risk Projects Becoming Preferred Choice for Universities, Governments

CM at-risk projects, one of the most popular construction choices in North Carolina in the past decade, are done through a general contractor who guarantees the cost of a project and provides valuable services to the owner. Those services include preparation and coordination of bid packages, scheduling, cost control, evaluation, pre-construction services and construction administration.

Those projects, first instituted in North Carolina in 2001, create a guaranteed maximum price. In CM at-risk projects, the contractor must work in a fiduciary relationship with the owner, and always act in the best interest of the owner. The Construction Manager at-risk must develop a master schedule, make recommendations, and advise on constructibility issues. The company must also pre-qualify and evaluate subcontractors.

CM Black is currently working on a CM at-risk Project, building a new Board of Elections building in Cabarrus. CM Black President Emmitt Black said his company looks forward to opportunities for more CM at-risk projects in the future.

“We are always looking for new opportunities with those kinds of projects,” he said. “Our knowledge of the local market helps us, as well as our knowledge of subcontractors and their capabilities. We understand that cost is one of the driving factors behind a CM at-risk project, and we do everything we can to ensure the project doesn’t sacrifice quality while staying within those parameters.”

The demand for CM at-risk projects is growing, and is expected to remain high. A study was completed by the University of North Carolina in 2009 after the university system engaged 94 CM at-risk projects within a 10-year period. That study examined those projects, which had a total value of almost $3.3 billion dollars, and said CM at-risk projects brought added value, because of features including:

• Having the contractor at the table during the design process to validate cost estimates, suggest modification to design details that simplify & speed construction, and to establish common expectations with regard to project schedule.
• Establishing a team approach to the project planning & execution ameliorates the adversarial relationship often found between owner, designer & contractor.
• Selecting the Construction Manager at Risk with a qualifications-based selection process.
• Assuring the best possible quality in the finished product.
• Achieving significantly higher minority participation over other methods construction project delivery.
N.C. State and East Carolina have also done CM at-risk projects, and so have local governments including Mint Hill, Charlotte and Cabarrus County. Fayetteville State University is also expected to do a CM at-risk project in 2011, and other universities and local governments are also expected to continue the trend into the next decade.

“We’ve really seen a surge in the number of CM at-risk jobs in the Charlotte region, particularly with local governments,” Emmitt Black said. “We look forward to working with Cabarrus County on our current project, and we look forward to working with other municipalities in the future.”