Design-build is a process of design and construction that improves costs,
improves quality, reduces schedules, and provides an overall better experience for the
owner. Design-build is the method of choice in many countries when it comes to
design and construction and has grown rapidly in the US over the past several decades.
What is Design-Build?
Design-build, as the name implies, combines the design and construction phases of
a project into one package.
In a "traditional" construction process, the owner retains an
architecture/engineering firm, perhaps through a bidding process, to design a building
or facility. Once this is complete, the owner then puts the construction phase out to
bid based on the design specifications. The construction contractor is usually chosen
based upon a low bid.
In the design-build process, the owner retains a design-build firm, through
negotiation or competitive bid. The design-builder is then responsible for
organizing the TEAM that will design and do construction for the project.
Advantages of Design-Build
Here are some of the many advantages of design-build:
- One point of contact for the owner.
The owner has one group to go to for questions, answers and responsibility.
The owner does not have to manage the project as a multiple phase project with
multiple, separate parties. Likewise, the owner does not have to put out to bid
each phase separately in a non overlapping manner.
- Architecture/Engineering and Contractor are a Team
Working as a team with a common goal, the architecture/engineering and
contractor groups are better able to communicate, test ideas in a quick and
efficient manner before final design, and work in a non-adversarial manner. The
improved communication is not only within this group, but with the owner, too.
- Early Definition of Costs
The design-build team, working closely with the client, accurately
conceptualizes the completed project at an early stage. Continuous and concurrent
estimating during the development of design results in knowledge of firm overall
cost far sooner than is traditionally possible. This process also permits making
early decisions - which have the greatest impact upon cost - in an informed,
- Time Savings
Design and construction are fast tracked with bidding periods and redesign
time eliminated. Long-delivery components are identified and ordered early in the
design process. Therefore, total design-construction time is significantly
reduced, which translates into earlier utilization of the completed facility.
- Dollar Savings
Design and construction personnel, working and communicating as a team,
evaluate alternative materials and methods efficiently and accurately. From the
outset of the project, both design and construction expertise is brought to bear
upon all components of a project from site work through mechanical and electrical
systems. Because cost evaluation is progressively "feedback" into the design
process as it proceeds - not after design is complete - decisions affecting cost
and design are continuously optimized.
Because the builder is responsible for both design and construction, cost
overruns resulting from design error or faulty coordination are the responsibility
of the builder, not owner. The owner pays only for scope changes which he