What Is Design-Build?

Design-Build is a project delivery system in which one entity works under a single contract to deliver both project design and construction services, instead of having separate companies complete these tasks under separate contracts. Design-Build contracts have fewer change orders, faster project delivery, and are more cost effective than traditional Design-Bid-Build projects, because it is a more unified process. It is also easier for project owners because they make only one bid for the project, and because they do not need to spend time as a go-between for several different professional groups, since all aspects of the project will be handled by a single company.

Choosing a Design-Build Company

When choosing a Design-Build company for a project, it is recommended to use a best qualifications or best value bid rather than low-bid because the Design-Build process is meant to lower costs throughout the design and construction. Design-Build teams work with a guaranteed maximum price, but also evaluate the costs and budget throughout the project, not just at the outset.

Pre-Construction Tasks

Another benefit of Design-Build is that pre-construction assessment tasks can be completed concurrently. When using the traditional Design-Bid- Build system, an architect must complete the building design, after which a general contractor must be brought on to review the design and assess which other subcontractors will be needed, after which engineers and other professionals must be contracted and brought in to review the designs for further specifications, and so on. However, when a Design-Build system is used, these processes can be completed almost simultaneously because all of the professionals required for the assessment are part of the same team, under the same contract. There is no need for the project owner to spend time and money contracting additional groups for work on the project to move forward.

The Design Phase

During the architectural design process, project owners will be able to set performance requirements and see that prices and schedules are determined. This method of pre-determining schedules and budget is a more streamlined process than with a traditional Design-Bid- Build process because the schedules are set by a single entity instead of requiring communication between several different groups. Once architectural design is completed, the Design-Build entity will be able to present a set schedule of completion and a guaranteed maximum price to the project owner.

The Construction Phase

The construction phase on a Design-Build project progresses more quickly and smoothly than on traditional Design-Bid- Build projects because some parts of construction can begin during the design process. In addition, project owners do not have to spend time and money on a second bid to select contractors, as the Design-Build entity will already include them, and they will be employed under the same contract. As with the possibility of overlap during pre-construction, being able to overlap design and construction saves significant time for the construction team and hastens the overall completion of the project.

Project Conclusion

At the conclusion of the project, ensuring that the project owner’s contract has been fulfilled is also a smooth process. The Design-Build entity will complete a post-construction hand-off that provides documentation for owners and building managers, walk-throughs, and anything else required to ensure that the building functions as intended. If any corrections or changes are required, the project owner can easily request it from the Design-Builder instead of having to contact multiple entities.

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