A design-build contractor risk assessment framework for new technical solutions in the construction industry

Abstract: Design–build contractors are often challenged to introduce new technical solutions into construction projects. However, they might not have methods and resources required to avoid serial failure, which is defined as multiple cases of failure when a technical solution fails to sustain the performance requirements. Here, the focus is on serial failures arising from the design or production that could have been predicted through calculations or assessment during the design phase. This work aims to reduce the occurrence of serial failures related to new technical solutions by suggesting a systematic approach for risk assessment with a focus on moisture safety, seen from a design–build contractor perspective. Earlier studies on methods and tools for evaluation and risk assessment of technical solutions were used to define a framework for the risk assessment approach. Current practices of implementing new technical solutions and the need for improvement were explored via semi-structured interviews. Two case studies of recent new technical solutions were used in the subsequent evaluation: cross-laminated timber in the construction phase and joint sealing tape in precast concrete sandwich facades. Besides the technical findings of risk evaluations based on the framework used in each case study, the proposed risk assessment framework is shown to provide a structured evaluation method that can be applied as a pre-qualification for new technical solutions before their implementation in construction projects. The company-level perspective, tollgates to structure the process, expert involvement in workshops and structured documentation and communication of assessment and results are the framework’s key elements. The framework facilitates the implementation of new technical solutions and helps the design–build contractor to prevent or reduce the occurrence of serial failures when introducing new technical solutions.