Design-Build. You might say it’s a simple approach to construction. A team, working together from start to finish in open communication and purposeful collaboration to deliver otherwise unachievable results. It’s the notion that when owners sit at the same table with architects and builders, engineers and estimators, great ideas — the best ideas — are born. And the way is paved for creative solutions to take hold, resulting in costs minimized, schedules streamlined and efficiencies realized.
What is Design-Build?
Design-Build is a construction delivery method that provides owners with a single point of contact for both the design and construction phases of a project. One entity holds single-source responsibility and contractual risk for every aspect of a build — from estimation, assessments and pre-construction to architecture, schematics, engineering, subcontracting, construction and post-construction. This entity, the Design-Builder, manages all contracts with companies, such as subcontractors, equipment vendors and materials providers.
Unlike in other construction methods, owners contract only with the Design-Builder. In the two other primary construction methods used today — construction management and general contracting (also known as design-bid-build) — owners contract with different entities for architectural design and construction. Since Design-Build brings together all elements of a project, architects work in coordination with other members of the project team. In other methods, architectural design is completed separately, sometimes resulting in unforeseen costs and delays during the construction process. But Design-Build allows your project team to provide insights into the costs and constructability of different designs. The end result is a sound design, a budget defined and a schedule streamlined. So business goals are met.
The Design-Build process
The Design-Build process has five primary phases:
- Selecting a Design-Builder
- Pre-construction assessments
- Architectural design
But unlike other construction methods, phases overlap, and all team members collaborate throughout the process to provide rapid project delivery.
Selecting a Design-Builder
The Design-Build process begins when you select your Design-Builder. In other methods, you would start by selecting an architect. To limit the potential risks associated with having one entity design and construct your facility, you may have a competitive bidding process for Design-Builders.
Because Design-Builders aim to find you savings throughout design and construction, you’ll benefit from using a qualifications-based selection. That means you select the Design-Builder with the best credentials, experience, expertise and team. Alternatively, you can use a best-value selection method, in which you select a Design-Builder based on a combination of estimated price and added value in addition to experience, expertise and credentials. Our recommendation is to avoid using a hard-dollar, low-bid selection process. The reason? Design-Builders deliver the best value by evaluating budget solutions early in the design process and by creating continuous price estimates as the design progresses. Limiting your prospective builders to hard-dollar bids before they have a chance to get into the project can lead to misleading and uncertain estimates. Even worse, it can mean a project that doesn’t deliver what you need.