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Advantages of Design-Build Approach

December 8th, 2015 by Kristin Darvish


Design-Build (D-B) is a project delivery system that includes planning, design and construction under one contract. D-B is the idea of partnering the right team, from the start, to help get to a completed project successfully and provide the highest satisfaction to the Client/Owner. Basically it’s like putting together any sports team. You pick teammates you know you can collaborate with, trust, lean on for support and ultimately win the game with. Design-Build has many advantages to ensuring a successful completed project when working together as a team.    

Distinctive Characteristics of Design-Build

There are three distinctive characteristics in the Design-Build approach:

  1. Communicating instantaneously: being able to communicate instantaneously speeds the whole process which improves your project schedule.

  2. Conducting business without boundaries: you have no physical or geographical boundaries getting in the way of your timeline.

  3. Producing customized products: the ability to quickly produce products that are custom and not your prototypical replications.

A Design-Build Team is usually made up of people who have worked together before. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can build off that knowledge to make the process more streamlined and successful.  

Advantages of Design-Build

So what are some of the advantages of the Design-Build approach?  

  • Builds Teamwork

  • Single Point of Responsibility

  • Open/Transparent Communication

  • Eliminates Adversarial Conditions

  • Not Restricted to Building Types

  • Faster Project Delivery

The D-B team usually consists of the Client, Construction Manager or General Contractor, Architect/Engineers, MEP & FP D-B Subcontractors and Suppliers. The D-B approach allows for early collaboration where all team members work together through the beginning stages of the project, with each bringing their design and/or construction expertise into the mix.  Sometimes a design problem has a construction solution while the same can be said for the opposite. Getting everyone together early allows all team members to share their ideas for creative and innovative solutions, which can lead to faster project delivery and best cost value.   

Single source of responsibility means one entity drives the flow of work all the way through completion by using open/transparent communication. The roles of contractor and designer are integrated to allow the architect to spend more time on the project. Both of these factors directly relate to eliminating adversarial conditions by using a single contract between the Owner and Design-Build Team. The D-B Team forms a unified front that helps create an enjoyable working experience for everyone involved. There is no blame game or finger pointing when something goes wrong. Rather, there is a shared responsibility for the design, budget and schedule, which brings the focus directly to solving the issue at hand as a unified front.

With everyone’s input and ideas from the beginning, the D-B Team is able to produce a highly customized and quality product for the Client/Owner. This is where collaboration and trust in the team is the key to the whole approach. Everyone brings their expertise to the project, which elevates the overall design, construction process and finished product.  All of the advantages help with faster project delivery because the D-B Team, working together from the start, streamlines the project timeline and brings more cost effective solutions.

Design-Bid-Build vs. Design-Build

In contrast, the Design-Bid-Build approach is more complicated than the Design-Build approach because the Client/Owner has to work with two separate contracts, one for design and one for construction. This may create problems throughout the process because there is not a single source of responsibility. If a problem arises, the architect and contractor may blame one another rather than work together to find the best solution. Whereas with the Design-Build approach everyone is on the same side and has the same amount of responsibility if a problem arises.   

There is no “I” in Team

The Design-Build approach is simple, “There is no I in team”. The Design-Build approach cannot be just one person. It is a group of teammates participating to achieve the same goal. It doesn’t matter how great a super star you are, you can’t win the championship game without your teammates. It’s the same with Design-Build, you can’t complete any quality project on time or within budget without your team. The Design-Build approach breaks down the silos that are typical in the A/E/C industry.  The approach is based on brainstorming, collaboration, trust, mutual respect and shared leadership.

This blog post is based on the information presented from “Advantages to Architects with Design-Build Approach” by Ray Caruso (C.E. Floyd Company, Inc.), Tom Peterman (Peterman Architects), Steve Ceglarski (The Wyatt Group) and Ron Brodeur (Wayne J. Griffin Electric, Inc.) at the 2015 ABX Conference in Boston.  

Contact us to learn how we can help you with your next construction project. 

Posted in the categories Planning Process, Building Process.


Posted on 12/8/2015 at 5:05pm by Zelena
Great read Kristin! Love the advantages section.
Posted on 12/8/2015 at 5:02pm by Shoshana Bean
Wow. Thoroughly enjoyed this piece. The section towards the end, "design-bid-build vs design-build" is very authentic and true. Ms. Devereauxs perspective speaks true to these readers. Teamwork is so important!

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