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  • Writer's pictureMolly Jones

Is Construction Management Multi-Prime the Right Delivery Method for You?

This is Part Three of a six-part series on Project Delivery Methods. We want to arm you with the information you need to make informed decisions to set up your project for success. Throughout this series, we’ll be deep-diving into the project delivery method, selecting your team, and what contracts you’ll need.

Is Construction Management Multi-Prime the right delivery method for your project? Construction Management Multi-Prime (CMMP) is also known just as Multi-Prime (MP). The American Institute of Architects (AIA) calls this Construction Manager as Advisor (CMa). And it has some distinguishing characteristics that make it perfect for certain projects.

The Construction Management Multi-Prime Team

The Multi-Prime delivery method has the same project phases that we’ve talked about before: Planning, design, bidding, and construction. However, unlike different delivery methods, when the owner onboards the architect during the planning process, they also onboard a construction management advisor who acts as their support person and advisor throughout the Multi-Prime process.

The owner brings on engineers and other specialty sub-consultants during the design phase. And, similar to the Design-Bid-Build method, cost commitments aren’t known until the end of the bidding process.

What is fundamentally different about this project delivery method is that the owner is managing each individual contractor (or set of contractors). Those contractors may have subcontractors that are engaged with them as well.

The key attribute of Multi-Prime

The most obvious attribute that distinguishes Construction Management Multi-Prime from other delivery methods is that you have multiple prime players (thus the term multi-prime). The owner retains the architect and a construction management manager who acts as an additional advisor to the owner. There are many separate contracts: Owner to designer, owner to construction management advisor, and owner to multiple prime contractors.

An important thing to remember is that the owner performs the role of the general contractor. And, as with other delivery methods, the owner warrants the sufficiency of the plans and specifications to the contractors.

What contracts will you need?

With the Multi-Prime delivery method, the owner will have a contract with any of their owner-direct consultants. The owner will also have a contract with the architect who will then have a subcontract with their consultants. There will also be contracts between You'll also have a contract with a construction management advisor and you will have multiple contracts with contractors. The number of contractors and contracts that you will have would be adjusted to suit the needs on your project. Note that your construction management advisor has an advisory role to play with your contractors.

Is Construction Management Multi-Prime the right delivery method for you?

What factors should you consider when trying to differentiate delivery systems? There are five areas that we like to look at:

  1. Owner Involvement. For Multi-Prime, the owner controls the entire process and acts as general contractor. The owner chooses contractors based on price and qualifications, and the number of contractors will vary based on the type and the size of the project.

  2. Accountability. There are multiple contracts with the owner. But there is no contractual relationship between the contractors and the architect. And there is also no contractual relationship between the architect and the construction management advisor. The construction management advisor acts as an agent to the owner but they assume no risk on the project.

  3. Cost control. Cost can be controlled by the owner. And that is directly relational to the amount of hands-on involvement the owner has in the execution of the project.

  4. Timeline. Similar to cost control, the schedule can also be controlled by the owner, but it’s directly relational to the amount of engagement the owner has in the project.

  5. Risk assignment. The owner warrants the sufficiency of the plans and specifications to the contractor. The owner also has multiple contracts with the prime contractors, setting up many silos where conflict could instill on the project.

As an owner, if you’re willing to be highly involved in your project, you can control the costs and the timeline with the Construction Management Multi-Prime delivery method.



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