What is design build?

As you consider how to make your building project dreams a reality, you may want to consider the design build model, one of the most significant design and construction trends today. It’s a project delivery system that exists within both the public and private sectors and includes all stages of a building project: planning, design and construction. Its popularity is growing fast—and for good reason. The Design Build Institute of America reports that the design-build approach is now used in about 40 percent of the nonresidential U.S. building market.

Under design build, design and construction are integrated into a single, streamlined approach, where a single entity, the design builder, contracts with the client or owner to oversee the entire process. The results fundamentally improve the design and construction experience for clients by controlling change orders, project cost increases and timeline overruns.

Several other project delivery systems exist, including design-bid-build, multiple-prime contractors and construction management at risk. But all of these alternative project delivery systems require multiple contracts for design and construction, essentially placing the owner in the middle of any disputes between the designer and contractor. Such disputes are common under traditional project delivery systems, as are the resulting claims and change orders.

Design build is distinctive in that it is the only project delivery system which allows the owner to manage just one contract. For owners, that means responsibility for the full scope of the project rests with a single entity and that the success of the entire process becomes dependent upon collaboration, cooperation and trust. According to the Design Build Institute of America, “Design build unleashes the power of team to deliver projects faster, better and for optimum cost—best value for the money, time and effort invested.”

Under the traditional design-bid-build model, preliminary drawings are developed, followed by detailed drawings, bidding of the project and construction. As a result, cost isn’t established until the bidding phase of the project. But under the design build model, cost is established within the first project phase, allowing the client more comprehensive knowledge of the project scope and the resources required for completion.

Overall, design-build offers many benefits:

  • Owner-submitted design-build projects outperform design-bid-build in cost, schedule, changes, rework and practice use, according to the Construction Industry Institute.
  • Design-build projects deliver 33 percent faster overall and cost six percent less than design-bid-build, according to the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management.
  • Project responsibility for both design and construction rests with a single entity.
  • The project schedule is expedited as construction can start even before design completion.
  • Construction costs are known during the design phase, for better price certainty.
  • The design-build entity takes on the design and construction risk from the owner.
  • Cost controls are firmly in place throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Less expertise and fewer resources are required of the client.
  • Litigation claims are virtually eliminated for clients.

To learn more about design build solutions at DBS Group, call (608) 881-6007 or email info@dbsg.com.