Project Delivery - Design-Build

In the Design-Build method the project owner has a single contract with the general contractor who then has contracts with the architect and trade contractors.

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The Design-Build method of project delivery eliminates a couple of the major negatives inherent in the Design-Bid-Build method.

CM at Risk: Project Delivery Methods - Definition of Design-Build and pros and cons.

This integrates construction and design by putting the contractor fully in charge of the process which shortens delivery timelines and substantially cuts change orders.  

A study by Penn State and the Construction Industry Institute (CII) in 1997 showed many of the advantages of the Design-Build method, which are summarized in these slides from the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA).

The key downsides of Design-Build include:

  • The project owner loses direct control over the design and must directly manage value vs. cost decisions.

  • The project owner must have clear and complete decisions on the scope of the project very early on.  

  • The project owner is responsible for changes and gaps in the scope. Deeply understanding the architectural design process and knowing how to manage it is a critical skill for any contractor delivering preconstruction services.  

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