Project Delivery Methods: Design Bid Build

Every real estate construction project is different. When embarking on a new project, owners are faced with the tough decision of how to purchase construction and which project delivery method to choose. The traditional method of Design-Bid-Build (DBB) has been replaced by newer methods gaining popularity, like the Design Build method, but it is still appropriate to use in many circumstances.

In the Design-Bid-Build delivery, the owner contracts separately with the design firm that produces the construction documents, and the builder that physically builds the building. This is the traditional method, and is based on the sequential process of design, construction documents, bidding, then construction.

First, a design firm is selected and hired to deliver 100% complete design documents. Once these documents are agreed upon, the owner solicits pricing from contractors to perform the work. Designers and contractors do not necessarily work together, nor do they have any contractual obligation to one another. Typically, the owner takes on all of the risk associated with the completeness of the design documents. For this reason, it is important to have a subject matter expert, like a real estate project manager, on your team to make sure that design documents are thorough and accommodate all immediate and future needs.

For certain organizations and institutions, the dual contract method works. The DBB method is beneficial for owners who do not have particular expertise in real estate or construction projects. Since each phase of the project is distinct, theoretically, the process is more linear and easier to follow. Depending on the organization, having two separate contracts, with the architect and the general contractor, could either limit or increase liability.

There are some drawbacks to the Design-Bid-Build method. The process can take longer, because construction cannot start until designs are 100% complete and documents are ready for bid. In other project delivery methods, construction can begin on portions of the project while the rest of the design is still underway. Additionally, because there are multiple contracts, there are multiple points of contact. The owner serves as a mediator for any design and construction issue that occurs for each party.

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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