What is Design-Build?

The benefits to be gained in establishing a well-designed and managed Design-Build process include the following:

Singular Responsibility
With both design and construction in the hands of a single entity, there is a single point of responsibility for quality, cost and schedule adherence.
The Design-Builder is motivated to deliver a successful project by fulfilling multiple parallel objectives, including aesthetic and functional quality, budget, and schedule for timely completion. With design-build, the owner is able to focus on scope/needs definition and timely decision-making, rather than on coordination between designer and builder.

The singularized responsibility inherent in design-build serves as a motivation for quality and proper project performance. The owner’s requirements and expectations are documented in performance terms and it is the design-build entity’s responsibility to produce results accordingly. The Design-Builder warrants to the Owner that it will produce design documents that are complete and free from error. (By contrast, with “traditional” design-bid-build, the Owner warrants to the Contractor that the drawings and specifications are complete and free from error. Because it is the Owner’s warranty for the design documents under design-bid-build, the traditional approach relies on restrictive contract language, audit and inspection and occasionally, the legal system, to ensure final project quality.)

Cost Savings
Design and construction personnel, working and communicating as a team, evaluate alternative materials and methods efficiently and accurately. Value engineering and constructability are utilized continuously and more effectively when the designers and contractors work as one team during the entire design process.

Time Savings
Because design and construction are overlapped, and because bidding periods and redesign are eliminated, total design and construction time can be significantly reduced. Design-Build is ideal for the application of “Fast Track” construction techniques. With Design-Build, materials/ equipment procurement and construction work can begin before the construction documents are fully completed. The resulting time savings translates into lower costs and earlier utilization of the completed facility.

Potential for Reduced Administrative Burden
During procurement, the potential exists for Design-Build to reduce the Owner’s administrative burden; however, preparing RFPs and conducting evaluations can be resource intensive during the early learning curve. During actual design and construction, the Owner is not required to invest time and money coordinating and arbitrating between contracts, but rather is able to focus on timely decision making.

Early Knowledge of Firm Costs
Guaranteed construction costs are known for earlier than in other delivery systems. The entity responsible for design is simultaneously estimating construction costs and can accurately conceptualize the completed project. Staged contracting for Design-Build services affords the Owner one or more “go, no-go” decision points during design. The decision to proceed with the project is made before substantial design expenditures and with firm knowledge of the final cost.

Improved Risk Management
Performance aspects of cost, schedule and quality are clearly defined and responsibilities/risks are appropriately balanced (individual risks are managed by the party best positioned to manage that risk). Change orders due to “errors and omissions” are virtually eliminated, because the Design-Builder has responsibilities for developing drawings and specifications as well as constructing a fully-functional facility.