When it comes to managing coal combustion residuals (CCR) mitigation and closure projects, site owners have multiple options for engagement and managing costs. The key questions to answer are: How much direct control do owners want to keep over the project and how much are they willing to spend partnering with professional assistance?
Three of the leading options are to retain: a Prime Contractor who serves as the single point of contact overseeing the entire project; a Construction Manager who oversees a prime contractor as the owner’s agent; a Construction Quality Assurance Consultant who is responsible for traditional third-party construction observation and documentation for compliance with contract documents and requirements.
At a high level, some of the key elements to retaining a Prime Contractor, Construction Manager, or Construction Quality Assurance Consultant, and how they differ, are as follows:
- Prime Contractor: A prime contractor (sometimes called a general contractor) provides, through a single contract, continuous professional management of all phases of a project. The prime contractor will assume responsibility for the direction, supervision, implementation, and contracting of suppliers and subcontractors to ensure the successful completion of the work.Typically, a prime contractor will assume most or all the financial risk of delays or cost overruns on a project. The owner relies on the Prime Contractor for nearly all aspects of the project, including facilitating timely solutions to unexpected problems, thereby avoiding construction delays and additional costs.
- Construction Manager: A construction manager provides management oversight of contractors hired by the owner. The construction manager acts in the best interest of the owner on all aspects of the project. This arrangement may make sense for owners who have successfully established relationships with contractors. This option provides traditional construction quality assurance services and construction management services related to contract administration and oversight of the contractors. The owner maintains control over key monetary and scheduling decisions.
- Construction Quality Assurance Consultant: A Construction Quality Assurance (CQA) consultant observes, monitors, and documents the work of a prime contractor, who may or may not be overseen by a construction manager. The CQA consultant does not take a hands-on role supervising the prime contractor as a construction manager would, and may make periodic visits to a job site rather than being on site every day. Their role is to guard against potential defects or deficiencies in the contractor’s work, document that the work has been performed in substantial compliance with plans and specifications, and provide technical advice to the owner, as needed.
No two CCR construction projects are ever the same and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for owners when it comes to retaining the right kind of professional expertise to complete a CCR construction project. Owners should evaluate potential contracting options/level of engagement early-on in the CCR process based on project complexity, data availability, internal resources, past history and potential project risk.