Benefits of Trenchless Constructability & Design Among Different Delivery Methods – Part I

While the various forms of delivery methods – Construction Manager at Risk, Job Order Contracting, Design-Build, and Design-Bid-Build – will differ, one common variable that will always provide benefits for underground infrastructure is using a trenchless constructability and design consultant.  

This type of partner provides clients with assistance in the planning, design, and construction of complex underground utility installation projects to confidently incorporate trenchless installation methods. The main services include conceptual design, construction consulting, construction management, design consulting, carrier pipe design, plan review, bore pit support and design, and claims avoidance.  

Below is the Part I of the advantages, for the CMAR delivery type specifically, from consulting on the various methods of trenchless utility installation and on improving operational efficiency, manage risk, and improve end user experience. Regardless of the delivery method, it is essential to note that early involvement is key.  


Construction Manager at Risk   

In a CMAR scenario, where a property owner hires a construction manager to oversee the project from design to construction close-out and deliver it within a Guaranteed Maximum Price that is established during the bid process. So, of course, it is in the CM’s best interest to manage the project budget and schedule very closely to stay within the GMP. 


How the Services Fit 

How a TCD consultant’s services would fit well in a CMAR is particularly with early involvement (i.e., minimizing design changes later on); a collaborative approach to ensure sequencing/timing, equipment sharing, and not duplicating efforts; as well as risk mitigation to create a more streamlined process for the GMP. 

For example, TCD can contribute to cost savings/value engineering by strategically recommending a reduction in wall thickness for casing. In fact, a recent project involving this recommendation resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.  

Another specific example could be leveraging shoring alternatives to account for pits being excavated adjacent to existing utilities, which could cause trench lines to collapse. While this is an added cost, it allows these additional expenses to be included as allowances in the GMP to protect both the owner and CMAR contractor. 


Real-Life Examples 

In a couple notable projects involving TCD’s consulting with the CMAR contractors from the beginning, it resulted in construction going very smoothly on the large and complex projects, with minimal changes or additional costs that were outside of the original plan. 

As part of the City of Phoenix’s Drought Pipeline Project, SSC performed as a subcontractor for Sundt Construction to perform 6 – 86” tunnels that would carry a 66” waterline. The bores were performed under 6 intersections. 

The method selected was hand/mechanical tunneling using a skid-steer equipped with either a grinder or hammer attachment and then hand trimming with a jackhammer. This method was chosen over a TBM because it did not require a reception pit since no head had to be pushed out and removed. This allowed us to stay out ahead of Sundt who could then dig up to our installation and tie in with their open cut installation when it worked for their schedule without worrying about multiple pits being open. 

We had also performed all of the design potholing work on this project, and supported the construction with our potholing operations as well. We appreciated being part of the team from the beginning with both potholing and consulting on the tunnels – helping to advise on the best method as well as decide on the best placement of the bore pits and tunnels to meet project goals.  

For more information: 

On another phase of this project, SSC performed as a subcontractor to PCL Construction to perform 3 – 96” tunnels that would carry a 72” waterline.  

SSC worked with PCL and the design engineers well in advance of construction to help design the tunnels on the project. The biggest challenge faced was designing the bore pits to fit in between all of the existing infrastructure in an active water treatment plant. The alignment that ended up being selected allowed the three tunnels to all tie together via four pits, the final one being where PCL could install valves and make connections to the existing lines. Three of the four pits that were in the main area could not be dug and shored using traditional methods and were instead built using soldier piles, lagging and gunite. This allowed for the pits to built-in configurations that were not rectangular.

Crews were onsite for almost 11 months to complete the 257’ of tunneling and also performed the installation of the carrier pipe and necessary grouting. 

For more information: 


“During an expedited Preconstruction process for a City of Phoenix Northwest Water and Wastewater Master Plan Project, SSC was brought on as an expert consultant to brainstorm trenchless excavation options. Sundt has worked with SSC multiple times over the years and is never disappointed by the effort and extensive knowledge they bring to any project. There were three different locations that were being evaluated to use trenchless excavation. They worked diligently to provide different trenchless methods, distances, size of tunnels, and show cost benefit analysis of each option. SSC provided valuable input on the long-lead procurement items associated with the scope, and all of this was done within a 3-month time span. SSC truly cares and is committed to serving the needs of every client and contractor they work with.” -- Janene Thomas, Project Manager at Sundt Construction 

In this Part I series of the advantages of incorporating trenchless constructability and design consultants into construction projects, we dived into how the service fits in with the CMAR delivery method and real-life examples. Stay tuned for Part II, which explores the benefits of trenchless constructability and design consulting for JOC projects! 

What Our Clients Say:

  • “My experience with the SSC was positive. Their professionalism, efficiency, and commitment to customer service made me feel confident in their ability to handle my construction needs. I would definitely recommend their services to others in need of a reliable construction office.”

    Kyler Colin, General Managing Partner, Phoenix Water Solutions

  • “I was impressed with the communication and appreciate SSC’s help to get this potholing done in a quick and professional manner.”

    Lynne Stocker, Assistant Project Manager, Garney Construction

  • “Workers were very knowledgeable about how to find the utilities despite differences in the drawings and actual field conditions. Very helpful in going above and beyond by working with us.”

    Johnathan Hoffman, Assistant Project Manager, City of Sedona

  • “Their collaboration with my team on large-scale infrastructure upgrade projects has been exceptional. Their expertise and professionalism have been invaluable in delivering successful outcomes. I highly recommend SSC Underground to any organization in need of top-notch services.”

    Ben Kooinga, Project Manager

  • “The Crew from SSC went above and beyond to locate our water line that turned out to be more challenging than originally expected.”

    Kevin Tallman, Director of Construction, Shane Co Jewelers

  • “SSC is accommodating and punctual.”

    Jeff Strasser, Managing Partner-Custom Structures LLC

  • “We had a project in North Scottsdale that had to be completed while school was out for Christmas break. I gave SSC one week notice and sent them plans with over 80 potholes. They jumped right on it and completed the work for us to meet our deadline. Everyone from Michelle and Arvid in the […]

    Kelley Hlavsa, Project Manager, Achen Gardner Construction

  • “Really appreciate you helping us with our boring need. The drilling crew did a great job and completed the entire job above and beyond our expectations, without any issues. We look forward to working with you again if any such need arises in future.”

    Satya Chataut, BHP

  • “Arvid, you and your team performed a difficult task with precision and safety at the forefront. Well done and thank you for all of your efforts.”

    Kelly Haberly, B&F Contracting

  • “Just wanted to reach out and say thank you for your crews’ work today at Asante Well #4. They were safe, professional, and went above and beyond making sure the site was cleaned up after they left. Please pass my thanks onto your crew.”

    JT Core, Felix Construction

  • “Just wanted to say thank you for the safety culture your company has. It’s a breath of fresh air to see other companies embracing being safe. I sat in on your crews’ safety meeting this morning prior to the start of their work on Ray Rd. “

    Scott Nunemaker – Vice President, RCCM

  • “Kuddos to your guys. Not once has any of your foreman’s EVER put up a fuss when I’ve asked them to work a little late. Response is always “whatever you want and we’ll stay as long as you need us to.” I really appreciate all the hard work they do for me.”

    Travis Barrick – Field Supervisor, Felix Construction

  • “A big thank you to SSC for jumping on this quickly as they did to help the team get this information so quickly. It’s much appreciated and was pretty impressive to see 5 separate potholing crews descend upon Rio Salado the way they did today!”

    Christopher Laute, Resident Engineer, Valley Metro

  • We’ve used SSC for a number of years and I’ve been very pleased. Thanks and keep up the great work.

    Dave Klann, Staff Engineer, Mactec

  • SSC did a great job. Their assistance during pre-construction was greatly appreciated and differentiated them from the competition. Keep doing what you do best!

    Jim Drago, Sundt Construction

  • I called with short notice to some work and SSC responded immediately. In this market, dollars seem to control everything and quality of people and work seem to have diminished. The professionalism and hard work of your crew takes me back to when people knew what they were doing and cared. Intelligent guys that work […]

    Lonnie Ferguson, Project Manager, Construction 70

  • As a civil engineering consultant, I usually recommend your services but rarely use them with the exception being vacuum excavating. I have attended your seminars in the past and find them very helpful. I recommend continuing the education to make designers better. If we understand and know how to specify your service, we are more […]

    Bill Gasque, Sr. Civil Engineer, Dowl HKM

  • SSC handled the project perfectly even went above to schedule directly with the gas company, made my job easier.

    Tony Smith, Owner, Western Underground

  • You and your staff are always responsive to our needs and make sure you clearly understand the scope of the work in advance, so there are no surprises. I really appreciate that attitude.

    Michael Rhodes, Civil Engineer, Gila River Indian Community

  • Overall a good company. Very professional in approach and execution of work. Courtesy and respect shown by all personnel, a welcome rarity in the business. Keep doing what you’re doing, and thank you.

    M. Gartner, Project Manager, Sybrant Construction

  • Your field crew did a great job!

    Nick Nikrant, Project Manager, Builders Guild

  • Crew was courteous & helpful.

    Jayde Bullard, Project Manager, Caljet of America, LLC.

  • This is the second time working with this foreman. Will request him again. Easy to work with.

    David Willett, Aero Automatic Sprinkler Co.

  • Superb foreman…Exceptional!

    Curtis Briggs, Shea Homes

  • Great work! SSC was timely, responsive and professional. I would use them again.

    Stewart Vaghti, Project Engineer, Gannett Fleming, Inc.

  • I have always had good and quick service from SSC.

    Sally Raymer, Sundt Construction

  • Arvid was very accommodating in getting crew onsite within 2 hours of my call.

    Dennis Sime, Project Superintendent, Hunter Contracting

  • First I want to express once again how impressed I am with you and your support group. You are all “top notch.” Yes the job went well and I appreciate your help. It really made a huge difference on such a critical facility. I still can’t believe (even though I saw it with my own […]

    David McKinley, VFC-Arizona

  • Great service on short notice. Thanks!

    Richard Komzelman, Carson Construction

  • The entire SSC crew was extremely professional and flexible. All of your company’s efforts are greatly appreciated and you will be our boring subcontractor on any future projects.

    Ben Myers, Project Manager, GRG Construction

  • Your team made this challenging casing push a success.

    Michael Fossett, Project Manager, SDB Inc.

  • Extensive knowledge of the local soil conditions coupled with their proven skills has insured that every job is completed within our schedule and budget. We’ve worked with SSC for many years and always found them to more than equal our high required standards and able to complete any task.

    Brian Chavez, Chief Estimator/Project Manager, Tyers Contracting

  • I would like to thank you for your prompt response to our urgent need for your services. The men you sent did a fantastic and quick bore. We do so appreciate your company for that. Thanks!

    Patricia Riggs, Town of Gila Bend

  • Our job was especially challenging. The SSC team worked six days, around the clock and the testimony to the success of their efforts is that the general public never knew they were here. An additional thanks to SSC for their professional courtesy. In our industry, it is something I do not encounter often enough.

    Chris McCoy, Superintendent, Gilbane Building Company

  • Your project manpower’s knowledge, attitude, safety and work ethic are outstanding!

    Mike Levi, Estimator/Project Manager, Holloman Corporation