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If you are in the real estate or construction industry, or you are involved in a construction project, you have most likely heard the term “design-build.” In today’s blog post, we’re taking a look at the design build process, the pros and cons, and why this might be the right construction contract for you.


What is Design-Build?

Design-Build is a construction delivery method where one entity performs both architectural/engineering and construction under a single contract. Owner’s have a single point of contact for both the design and construction phases of a project. Similarly, one entity holds the responsibility and contractual risk for every aspect of the build. That entity, the design-builder, manages all contracts with subcontracts, vendors, material providers, etc.


What is the alternative method?

There are many ways to purchase construction: cost-plus, lump sum, unit price, competitive bidding, GMP, and more. However, the key difference with traditional project delivery methods is that the owner must manage two separate contracts. The owner becomes the middleman, settling disputes between the designer and the contractor. The designer and contractor aren’t necessarily (or contractually) working together, in order to avoid cost overruns and other problems. This is not ideal for an owner who doesn’t have expertise in construction or project management.


What are the benefits of the Design-Build construction method?

Enhanced communication- Delivering a successful design-build project requires open collaboration between all team members. The method creates a team-oriented approach that promotes high levels of communication and transparency to ensure the success of the project.

Smooth process- Design-build projects are often more fluid projects to manage, from the owner’s (or the owner’s representative) perspective. The single-source responsibility afforded by the DB method means that there are no conflicting recommendations between the architect and the contractor. Instead, the designers and builders are working together to create the best end-product for the owner, because that will produce the best outcome for the DB entity as well.

Faster Delivery- Design-build can offer a faster delivery, because design and construction happen concurrently and because there is only one selection phase instead of two. One drawback, is because of the expertise needed to execute a design-build project, the RFP process is very complex. There is usually a longer response timeframe, because there are more details and requirements to answer in a design-build RFP.

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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