What is Design-Build

What is Design-Build

  • Posted by Heather Davis
  • On September 6, 2021

Just the Facts

Just the Facts

What is Design-Build ?

Design-Build Project Delivery

The Owner manages only one contract with a single point of responsibility. The designer and contractor work together from the beginning, as a team, providing project recommendations to fit the Owner’s schedule and budget.

What is the design-build method?

Design-Build is a method of project delivery in which one entity – the design-build team – works under a single contract with the project owner to provide design and construction services. One entity, one contract, one unified flow of work from initial concept through completion.

Is Design/Build good?

The decision makers (architect, contractor and construction manager) work together to determine schedule and cost. Because they work together on the front end there are fewer conflicts between different players means less wasted resources.

The Design-Build team members should not only be experienced in their respective fields, but they should be capable and willing to think outside the box to come up with win-win solutions to deliver a successful project. Compromise and cooperation across the board are essential.

This is a very good delivery system for the private sector where transparency of building costs are not as important. 

What are the disadvantages of design-build?

  • Higher Prices. With no bidding process, the project owner does not have the ability to select their own price.
  • Creativity. Many design-build companies have stock designs that they use and then tweak to fit the project owner’s requests.
  • Less owner involvement

How much do design/build firms cost?

Design-build contractors typically charge fees of 4% or 5% of a project’s cost, while contractors doing design-bid-build work charge 2% or 3%, says Dave Moses, executive vice president and partner of Clayco Construction Co. in St. Louis, a design-build firm.

Which is better design-build or design-bid-build?

At least upfront, design-bid-build versus design-build offers the lowest price because, with design-bid-build, the lowest bids are typically accepted. Since the design team is responsible directly to the owner and not the contractor, they are incentivized to build quality into their designs.

Additionally, Design Bid Build lays all of the actual costs on the table where everyone knows where every penny is spent.  The costs and quality of materials, labor costs, equipment costs, subcontractor fees, etc., are all laid out on the table and everyone knows what you are getting and at what price. This is the best avenue for state (public) construction projects where tax payer dollars are being spent.   

In Design-Build a fee structure is established which encompasses the project design costs, costs of materials, labor hours and labor rates, subcontractor fees, equipment costs and indirect costs and the design-build contractor fees.   On a tight budget it may be very difficult to know the quality of the materials that are used on the project.


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