What is Design-Build?

“I have a project that I want to do. Where do I go from here?”

Some companies might get an architect to draw up a design. The company would then take the plans to a few construction companies to see what the cost would be to turn the design into a reality. They would then compare the quotes and decide on what construction company they want to work with. A contract would be created for both the design company and the construction company, and the project would then begin.

There is another option that streamlines this process. It is called design-build, and it is gaining popularity across the county. Design build methods will represent 44% of construction spending across many market segments by 2021, according to the June 2018 “Design-Build Utilization” report.

Design-Build is a project delivery method that has the project design and the project construction handled by one point of contact. This single source manages the project from concept to completion. This method involves a partnership approach to the project with owner and contractor having common goals for the successful completion of the project. This offers some significant advantages to the client.


  1. Expedited project schedule- fast-tracked
    • Design-Builder can order long lead-time materials while still in the design phase to reduce time needed to start project.
    • Fast track method can start construction during initial phases while latter phases are still in design stage.
  2. Cost
    • Design-Build construction is typically less costly than the traditional architect/general contractor arrangement because cost is established earlier which saves time. Time=$.
    • Design-Builder can use value-engineering analysis to quickly determine optimum solutions resulting in few, if any change orders.
    • Contract can be arranged with a guaranteed maximum, time and material agreement that will allow you to see cost up front giving client full transparency.
  3. Single Source Responsibility
    • One company in charge of everything makes it more accountable for the project, which reduces potential for conflict, which is typical for design-bid-build. Traditional project delivery can put the owner in the middle of any dispute because they have separate contracts with each party.
    • Scope of work can be tailored to most effectively take advantage of contractor’s expertise thereby reducing final costs.

Collaboration is key in design-build. When you have one entity in charge of the whole project, it allows for discussion between all parties throughout the process. If there is something in the design that can’t be managed efficiently during the construction phase, this can be discussed early and solutions can be found before they become costly and time-consuming which keeps the project on budget and on schedule. This makes design-build a preferred building method for many industries.

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