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New design-build model contracts ’raise the bar’

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), the leading advocate and resource center for design-build industries, released new design-build model contracts in May. The new documents build on DBIA’s first edition of model contracts released in 1999, but recognize that design-build participants need to be provided more flexibility and that a "one-size" contract cannot fit all situations. The initial release will focus on the owner and design-builder documents including Lump Sum Agreement, Cost Plus with an Option for a GMP Agreement, and General Conditions. DBIA plans to release new subcontractor and design consultant agreements this fall.

"In the 10 years since the first edition of the DBIA documents were released, the design-build industry has grown by leaps and bounds. The number of owners employing the design-build delivery method has exploded, and industry has a much better understanding of the keys to a successful design-build project," said Tom Porter, DBIA National Board chair. "In addition, a body of case law has evolved addressing issues unique to the design-build delivery method. The time is ripe for DBIA to release its next-generation of documents."

The new documents adopt a menu approach that allows parties to customize contracts to their unique project, emphasizing that there is more than one way to address a particular contractual issue. According to DBIA, this menu approach will facilitate the process by which parties can address difficult contractual issues at the outset of their relationship and arrive at a contract tailored to the unique project and to each party’s risk tolerance.

DBIA has raised the bar in that these new contracts also respond to some of the more contentious issues that have arisen over the last 10 years in the design-build industry. For example, the new contracts better address "scope of work" issues by developing a more comprehensive framework to ensure that the owner’s and design-builder’s expectations on scope are more closely aligned.

They address—head-on—an owner’s use of prescriptive specifications in its project criteria in a manner consistent with case law that has developed over the last 10 years.

Nonresidential construction job loss slowed in April

WASHINGTON, D.C.—"The latest employment report indicates that the nation lost more than half a million jobs in April and revisions to earlier months bring that number to more than 600,000," said Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "Normally, this would be viewed as very bad news, but some observers are interpreting the latest jobs numbers as additional evidence of economic stabilization.

"While the pace of job loss continues to be brisk and unemployment will likely peak around or above 10 percent before reversing course, the employment report is consistent with a sea of other recently released economic data that foreshadow a slow economic recovery," added Basu.

"For those in the nonresidential construction industry, this is welcome news. Though recovery within many nonresidential construction segments remains months or even years away, the ongoing stabilization of the broader economy is consistent with the notion that demand for new construction will begin to emerge later this year and into 2010," said Basu. "The stimulus package represents an important element in that formula. With the broader economy beginning to recover even before the stimulus package has had a major impact, the implication is that better times are ahead."

Structural steel industry to open its doors for SteelDay

CHICAGO—On Sept. 18, 2009, architects, engineers, contractors, and others involved in the AEC community will have the opportunity to visit steel fabricators, mills, service centers, and other facilities throughout the country. Currently, more than 100 SteelDay events are scheduled in 43 states for the AEC community to tour facilities and jobsites, attend educational seminars, network, and see how the structural steel industry is contributing to build America.

SteelDay 2009, hosted by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), is the first planned annual national event dedicated to providing the AEC community with accessibility to the latest happenings in the structural steel industry. To announce SteelDay 2009, AISC recently launched a new website and portal,, which features information and resources on where all of the action is taking place, including a map of the event locations and how to attend or host an event.

ACI seeks presentations for spring 2010 convention

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich.—The American Concrete Institute (ACI) is seeking presentations for sessions taking place during the ACI Spring 2010 Convention in Chicago, March 21-25. Building Information Modeling ACI Committee 118, Use of Computers, seeks presentations for its technical session, "Building Information Modeling in the Concrete Industry."

Participants are invited to submit abstracts on topics including, but not limited to, successes, failures, problems, and/or potential of using building information modeling for concrete structures in any or all phases of a project, including design, detailing, fabrication, construction, and operation.

Abstracts of up to 500 words, along with presentation title, author name(s), and contact information, should be sent to Allan Bommer at no later than Sept. 1, 2009. More information about current Calls for Papers can be found by visiting