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Design-build contractors prepare for a 'new normal'

Sources: Design-Build Institute of America, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

Results of a new Design-Build Institute of America poll on pandemic response measures and market impacts indicate that uncertainty reigns among architectural/engineering/construction interests, with respondents citing postponement or cancellation of more projects and remote work shifting from a unique experiment to what could be a "new normal." Findings back those of an DBIA initial poll conducted in March as national lockdown and state shelter orders took hold. 

A growing number of design-build practitioners report working on new projects related to pandemic mitigation, emergency services, and facility expansion. From creating alternate care space in hotels, convention centers, and dorms to building new capacity in existing hospitals, teams have delivered expedited emergency facilities in states coast to coast. In transportation and education sectors, several existing projects have been expedited as less traffic and absence of students on campus have provided the opportunity for more work.

Respondents in the most recent poll predict projects could become more expensive with the implementation of new safety protocols, commodity cost hikes, and other economic factors in the Covid-19 work environment. They also anticipate longer project delivery times as social distancing policies impact scheduling and creative strategies are needed to manage project crews on site. At the same time, owners' capital is limited, and state or local agencies face tightening budgets.