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Pre-Construction Phase Administration Guidebook for Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) Transportation Projects


Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) is an innovative project delivery method that is quickly gaining the attention of transportation agencies. CM/GC is an attractive method of alternative project delivery under which agencies can deliver complex projects quicker and for lower costs without relinquishing as much control over the design as in design-build. CM/GC projects consist of two stages, the first of which is pre-construction services. After completing preliminary design (often 30%), the agency procures a CM/GC contractor for the pre-construction services phase to provide input as the design progresses. The contractor provides input on issues such as constructability, value engineering, quantities take-offs, cost estimating, scheduling, permitting and long-lead procurement. At the conclusion of the pre-construction services, the goal is for the contractor and the agency to agree to price at which the contractor will construct the project. While CM/GC has gained traction, only a handful of jurisdictions have made extensive use of it, while many others are interested, but hesitate due to a lack of experience. However, with several leaders in alternative delivery having delivered CM/GC projects, there exists a solid framework of best practices to serve as the starting point for greater implementation.


The success of CM/GC hinges on ensuring that the pre-construction phase produces a constructible design that fits within the project owner’s budget. The inability of the owner and contractor to arrive at a construction price can result in significant lost time and expense, and can turn the owner against the CM/GC method. The goal of this research will be to assist agencies in the development of administration systems for the pre-construction services phase of CM/GC projects by combining best practices with industry experience. The end goal will be a guidebook that agencies inexperienced with CM/GC can use when first delivering CM/GC projects, but which is suitable for experienced agencies as a compilation of best practices and suggestions for the betterment of their CM/GC projects.


There does not presently exist a “guidebook” for agencies that walks them through the details of CM/GC pre-construction services administration. While there is research on CM/GC delivery, it focuses on general best practices from a broad perspective, without providing the specificity desired by agencies looking to learn details of how to deliver a project using CM/GC. This guidebook will fill that void.

Related Research:

“A Guidebook for Construction Manager-at-Risk Contracting for Highway Projects,” Douglas D. Gransberg, et al. (April 2013).

"A guidebook for CM/GC post award contract administration" Molenaar, El Asmar, Papajohn, et al. (In Press)


(1) Research on current best practices for CM/GC pre-construction services; (2) interviews with (a) agencies that have delivered CM/GC projects, (b) consultants providing services for owners delivering CM/GC projects and (c) contractors with CM/GC experience; (3) drafting of the guidebook. Interviews will draw from all types of CM/GC projects, including rail and transit, ports, aviation, buildings, highways, bridges and others, then distilled for best practices in transportation.


The guidebook will be implemented through research and interviews, culminating in a written report.


This information is relevant to transportation and transit agencies in nearly every U.S. jurisdiction and abroad. CM/GC can be used in nearly every mode of transportation, from highways to transit systems, such that the guidebook would be of interest to any agency that delivers transportation projects.

Sponsoring Committee:AKC20, Project Delivery Methods
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Ken Beehler, Amir Hessami, John Carlson
Source Info:Committee members, interviews with relevant agencies
Date Posted:11/06/2018
Date Modified:12/31/2018
Index Terms:Construction management, Construction manager/general contractor delivery method, Project delivery, Preconstruction activities, Contract administration, Handbooks,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Administration and Management

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