Why do school districts in Texas as well as many architectural firms believe that design-build is not a superior method of contracting for public school construction? The arguments often center on the schools not knowing the final cost of the project until it is completed; that many school projects come in over budget; and that the design-build team will lower the quality of the construction in order to meet the district’s budget. While this could be an issue with some common applications of design-build that other companies take, Ramtech has developed a vertically integrated permanent modular construction approach to design-build that eliminates these concerns while providing a less expensive school facility which can be completed faster than using the design-bid-build or construction manager delivery methods.
Before a school district even has to make a decision on whether they will use design-build, Ramtech’s project design and construction team will meet with key school officials to discuss and assess the facility requirements. Then, at no cost to the district Ramtech will provide them with:
- Building floor plans and site plans
- An architectural rendering of the school facility
- Outline construction specifications
- A project feasibility study consisting of rough order of magnitude pricing that includes options for site improvements and upgrades and allowances to interior and exterior finishes
The designs at this stage are 30-40% complete which will allow the school district to establish a qualified budget and decide whether Ramtech’s approach provides a facility that meets their quality expectations and budget requirements. If so, the district can then make a decision on whether to utilize the design-build delivery method. After a school board decides to move forward and advertises the project, in the case of Ramtech we are able to provide them with:
- Our 32 year history of successfully completing design-build projects
- Information on how Ramtech’s permanent modular building system provides for a greener, faster, less costly and superior quality building
- References from school districts and our bank and surety company
Should the school district then decide to select Ramtech as its design-build firm, we will then propose a two-step design-build contract. The first step provides for completing the civil and site design, the soils analysis testing, and the building design to the 100% level. This allows us to provide the school district with a fixed, stipulated sum price. Since Ramtech had already provided designs to a 30-40% level at no cost, the remaining cost to complete the designs to 100% is very small when compared to the traditional A/E fees associated with a design-bid-build or construction manager approach. Once the school district accepts the stipulated sum price and approves the 100% design package, Ramtech can then move forward with the second phase (construction part) of the project.
During the construction phase while the site is being prepared and the concrete foundation and utilities are installed, Ramtech is also fabricating the building in our 85,000 square foot manufacturing facility located on a 20 acre secured site in Mansfield, Texas. This simultaneous approach shrinks the overall construction time by 30-50% while also reducing the chance of onsite injury and weather related damage to the materials. Once the site activities are nearing completion the building modules are transported to the site, set in place, and weathered-in usually in one to two weeks. This process together with our approach to design-build saves money by:
- Controlling the cost of labor since most of the labor is done in our manufacturing plant
- Purchasing most of the materials directly from wholesale suppliers and not from retail stores or subcontractors
- Reducing overhead by completing projects faster
- Keeping change orders (usually owner requested changes) to a minimum since the designer and constructor are one in the same
Our process has convinced the Texas school districts that have utilized it that Ramtech’s approach to design-build construction is a proven and superior method to other project delivery systems.