What is Design-Build Construction?

What is Design-Build Construction?

In its simplest form, design-build construction means that the design professionals are contracted directly by the construction manager as opposed to the owner.  This varies from the traditional method (design-bid-build) where owners hires an architectural firm to oversee the design and then contracts separately for the construction.  The traditional approach requires that the owner manage and negotiate multiple contracts of various professionals with sometimes competing interests.  It also includes an added burden of managing what can be an arduous communication process to make sure everyone is moving in the same direction and that all critical information is clearly communicated and not overlooked.  Perhaps most importantly, it generally means that the owner can confidently predict the project cost and schedule only after the building has already been designed.

The Design-Bid-Build Approach

The Design-Build Approach

The design-build approach is a team approach that creates single-source accountability and therefore limits the potential for conflicts and finger pointing.  It is a collaborative process that involves a highly integrated team whose goal is to design the project based on the owner’s budget.  It also provides the earliest commitment of guaranteed cost and delivery.

Why Design-Build?

According to the Design-Build Institute of America, the Design-Build method can translate to a number of benefits.

Design-Build Approaches

It is important to note that the actual design-build process can vary tremendously– depending on the construction manager and the preferences of the owner.  Some contractors, for example, have on-staff architects and engineers who are responsible for creating the design documents.  Some owners will hire portions of the design work and leave others to the contractor, which eliminates much of the benefit associated with a single-source approach.  In other words, “design-build” is not a catch all term.  The process can vary from contractor to contractor.

The Hemmer Approach

Hemmer’s belief is that there are key ingredients for a successful design-build project.  They include:

  • Trust and Transparency:  Trust is the most important ingredient to success and a willingness to work transparently lays the foundation to success.
  • Single-source responsibility and accountability:  The construction manager contracts with ALL design professionals.  This gives the owner one point of contact, as well as a single source of accountability.
  • Collaboration and Communication:  The design-build process is a team approach and involves a highly collaborative process built on designing around a budget.  Good communication is vital to success.
  • Third-party design objectivity:  The design team should be comprised of third-party design professionals, as opposed to employees of the construction manager.  Third party professionals provide valuable objectivity, as well as additional experience that may not be available solely through the construction manager.

When property executed, the Design-Build process can save both time and money, but it requires an experienced team of professionals.






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