What Is The Design-Build Method?

Posted by Ben Sparhawk on Nov 10, 2021 1:34:23 PM

What do you think of when you think of the design-build method in construction?

Do you think of secretive attitudes, protective measures, proprietary turf wars, mistrust, and grudging communication, if there is any communication at all?

Or, do you think of open minds, respect for others, taking responsibility, friendly sharing of ideas and processes, and ongoing communication geared toward the project's success?

Most of us will think of the latter.

And if you did, the design-build process is exactly what you're looking for.

In the article below, we will go in-depth about what the design-build method is.

Table of Contents



What is Design-Build?

Design-build is one of the project delivery methods where the design-build team works under a single contract with the project owner to provide design and construction services.

The design-build approach has one entity, one contract, and one unified workflow from initial concept through completion.

It is also referred to as design/construct and single-source responsibility.

Design-build successfully delivers superior results in office buildings, schools, stadiums, transportation, water infrastructure projects, and other construction projects.

It's an alternative to the traditional design-bid-build method.

With the latter approach, the design and construction phases are split into separate entities, separate contracts, and separate work.


5 Phases of the Design-Build Process

1. Team Selection

The first phase of the design-build process is when the project owner chooses the design-build team.

The project owner will carefully vet potential candidates and choose the contractor-architect team best suited for their project.

This team often has the most design-build experience, and best understands the company's vision, needs, and budget.

Though project costs are an essential factor to consider, they should not be the only factor influencing the final decision.

It's often tempting to choose the lowest price, but you should understand the value of working with a qualified design-builder.

A good decision is made based on price, yes, but more importantly, it is based on the experience and skills of the design-builder.

Knowing the value of the design-build approach is beneficial to everyone involved, including the designers, contractors, and owners.

Designers and contractors compete based on their skill level, and owners can expect to receive a better quality project from start to finish.


2. Pre-construction

The pre-construction phase is just as important, if not more so than any other part of the process.

Attention to detail during this phase is essential because this is when the design-builder will learn about your business, including your goals, challenges, budget, and overall vision for the project.

During this phase, the project owner should ask as many questions as necessary to understand what is expected to be delivered. 

During this phase, everyone will work together, including architects, engineers, contractors, and other consultants, to assess current structures, electrical systems, and more, to determine what needs to be done before construction begins.

These will allow for a thorough analysis of the construction site so that the design-build team can maximize efficiency throughout the project.


3. Architectural Design

Now it's time for the architectural design phase to begin.

By now, some of the initial design strategy work may have already started during the pre-construction phase.

Now all project team members will develop the best possible design to ensure the success of the project.

The design-build firm will look for ways to save money and optimize processes while meeting functional requirements and style preferences.

The vision of the project is established during this phase with preliminary drawings presented to the owner.

The owner also provides a final budget, the project schedule is set, and initial building drawings are presented.

All expectations for the project will be established, and the project can begin once everything is agreed upon.


4. Construction

It's not uncommon during design-build projects for some overlap between the design and construction phases.

This can speed up the project considerably.

Communication is also simplified throughout the construction process because there is only one point of contact for the project.

All workers are on the same team, working toward the same goals and deadlines, so any issues or concerns are often resolved quickly and efficiently.

Change orders are minimal and sometimes non-existent due to the collaborative nature of the design-build delivery system.


5. Post-construction

Once construction has been completed, the design-build team will provide an overview of the project deliverables.

They will also present various O&M training materials, like instructional videos, documented procedures, and in-person training sessions for appropriate personnel.

Since a single entity does the entire project, the post-construction process is streamlined and goes much quicker than when the designers and contractors work separately.


Three Advantages Of Design-Build

1. Teamwork

The design-build team and the owner have the same goal.

They want to complete a successful project that meets or exceeds expectations.

The designers and design-assist consultants are established right at the beginning of the design process.

If a project encounters challenges, pointing fingers is not an option.

The design-build team is solely accountable for having one single contract with the owner.

So when challenges occur with design, budget, or construction, everyone works on solutions together as a team.


2. Accountability

A fundamental difference between design-build construction and traditional methods is that one entity is accountable for the entire project.

This includes the quality of the design, how the end result looks, the total costs, and how quickly construction can be completed.

When the same people who design the project also build the project, the costs of all aspects are taken into account early on in the process.

Design fees, anticipated construction costs, and market condition forecasts are all accounted for beforehand.

If the design is updated, the cost estimate is also updated.

This allows the owner to constantly evaluate the project and pursue additional scope or rethink a current solution.


3. Continuity

Since the design-build firm is involved in the project from initial concept to completion, there is an inherent efficiency and effectiveness to the process.

There are clear and effective communication channels that are established before early concepts are created.

This creates a streamlined process throughout the project, from design to construction.  

With this project delivery method, there is an integrated project leader who leads the design team during the pre-construction period and is also the point person during construction.

The integrated project leader oversees the project from start to finish, holds the team together, and provides reliable communication with the owner.


Contact The Best Design-Build Team At CDMG

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of STEVENS, CDMG offers full-service, multi-discipline engineering, project management, and construction management services nationwide projects.

CDMG provides the resources to design and manage projects with a focus on efficient operations.

Our goal is to always deliver projects on time, within budget, and to the highest level of quality.

Contact CDMG today for more information about our capabilities and discuss your upcoming project with our design-build experts.


Topics: design-build

About The Author

ben-sparhawkI'm Ben Sparhawk, the Content Writer and Marketing Account Manager for CDMG. I write to showcase the work that CDMG does and everything related to the pre-engineered metal building industry as well as their engineering capabilities. When I'm not working on content, you can find me spending time with my wife and children. You can also find me in the gym, trying to better myself, and I also enjoy spending time outdoors hiking or checking out local parks.