Benefits of Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) Model in Iowa Public Vertical Construction Projects
How recent Iowa legislation allowing the CMAR model can benefit your public works project
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The Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) delivery model has been gaining traction across the country as an effective way to manage large public works projects with complex requirements. With Iowa’s recent legislation, now all but one state has adopted this delivery model, which offers significant advantages to owners and designers alike.

What is CMAR?

CMAR is a design-bid-build project management approach where construction managers (CMs) commit to delivering a project within a guaranteed maximum price (GMP). Under this model, the CM acts as a partner to owners or designers, providing cost estimating and schedule advice throughout the project's lifecycle. Because the CM is brought on early, they can provide invaluable insight into potential risks and possible solutions before any work begins.

Iowa’s law, enacted in 2022, allows the use of CMAR project delivery for all public works projects except for highway, bridge, and culvert work. View the bill for a complete overview.

Benefits of CMAR Model

CMAR allows CMs to partner with owners and designers early on, providing cost estimating and schedule advice at the most critical phases of the project. What’s more, it provides continuity on large, complex and/or multi-phased projects, resulting in the best project value.

The benefits over traditional project delivery models include:

  • Reliability in Budgets: By bringing on a construction manager early in the process, stakeholders get accurate cost estimates from experienced professionals who understand all aspects of construction costs. This helps you budget more accurately for your public works projects, avoiding costly overruns down the line.

  • Increased Efficiency: The CMAR model also helps improve efficiency by providing continuity throughout the project's lifecycle. With expert guidance from experienced professionals, projects can be completed more quickly and with fewer delays or complications along the way. Additionally, since the CMs understand all phases of design and construction, they can offer valuable insight that may otherwise be overlooked or ignored during traditional models of project delivery.

  • Improved Overall Value: Ultimately, the goal of any construction project is to deliver maximum value for every dollar invested - and that's exactly what CMAR model delivers. With its focus on cost savings, increased efficiency, and improved outcomes, this delivery method offers an unbeatable combination when it comes to getting maximum performance out of your capital investments.

Every construction project should focus on understanding the needs of the owner, business purpose of the project, design and functionality aspirations, stakeholder requirements, risk tolerance, cost and schedule. Those inputs help CMs recommend the best course of action to deliver the facility you want, on time and on budget, with the outcomes you need for your capital investment.

Ultimately, the CMAR delivery method offers tremendous value for all by delivering maximum outcomes from capital investments, making it an ideal choice for public owners of vertical construction projects.

Randy Clarahan, Mortenson market executive and chairman of the Master Builders of Iowa Association, recently delivered a presentation breaking down the pros and cons to this approach. Check out more resources available on this subject at the Master Builders resource site.

Choosing the Right Project Delivery Method for Your Project

CMAR is just one of the project delivery methods used by Mortenson’s project teams. We are always willing to work within your prescribed delivery method and can recommend the best option for your unique project.

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