In as much as design-build is defined by a single contract and one integrated team for design and construction services, design-build is also the mental shift to think and act as a single entity. Design-build is often compared to the concept of the Master Builder, which existed in ancient times and into the Renaissance. Many of the great wonders of the world were created using this methodology. The Master Builder was not a contractor, an architect or an engineer. The Master Builder was the embodiment of all three disciplines. The Master Builder concept depicts the earliest model for delivering design and construction as an integrated service.
Toward the end of the Renaissance, design and construction began to separate. Individuals began to identify themselves as either designers or construction tradesmen. As the Industrial Age unfolded, specialization affected all aspects of Western culture. Professional associations and societies came into being, further defining the separation between architects, engineers and contractors. Specialization continued to support more segregated project delivery models throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Over the years, the design and construction industry degenerated from a culture of cooperation, teamwork, trust and mutual respect to one of fragmentation and inefficiency. There are many historical reasons this happened, but in the past few decades, many organizations are making efforts to restore the design and construction industry to its collaborative roots. Design-build has thrived because owners see the need for change in the way projects are delivered.
Design-build is intended to be a highly collaborative, fully integrated process that is built on trust, mutual respect, teamwork, innovation and creative problem solving. Design-build unleashes the power of team to deliver projects faster, better and for optimum cost – best value for the money, time and effort invested. Owners find that when design-build is done right, their level of engagement with the entire team is more meaningful than is experienced with other delivery systems.
Across the country and around the world, design-build successfully delivers both horizontal and vertical construction projects with superior results, no matter what the project type (dbia.org).
What is the Design-Build Delivery System?
Design-build is a delivery system in which one entity, the design-build team, works under a single contract with the client to provide design and construction services; one entity, one contract, one unified flow of work from the initial concept through completion.
In essence, the Team meets with the client to establish a realistic budget for the project and then works closely with the client, to come up with a design that fits within that pre-established budget. During the design phase, our team is working closely together to ensure the design is within that budget. After the plans are complete, the cost has already been established along the way so we can apply for a permit and go straight to construction. Thus, saving time and money normally wasted on the design-bid-build or traditional way of building a project. Across the country and around the world, design-build successfully delivers office buildings, homes, schools, stadiums, and other projects with superior results, saving the owner upwards of 10%.
Design-build is a better alternative to design-bid-build or the traditional way of building a project. Under the latter approach, design and construction are split – separate entities, separate contracts, separate work. While the competitive bidding structure elicits low bids, the cost of a design is not determined until the bids are received. This could mean that a redesign is required if the bids exceed the budget, and because time is a financial factor, cost estimates can change during the design process, not to mention most low bids promote change orders. These factors can cost thousands of dollars. This fragmented approach can also cause more finger-pointing between the parties, since the contractor is not able to give advice during the design, budget, or project planning phases. Finally, as scheduling goes, this is the slowest of the two methods.
Over the past 15 years, use of design-build has greatly accelerated in the United States, making this delivery system one of the most significant trends in design and construction today.
The design-build delivery system is a shift from the more traditional design-bid-build delivery of construction contracts. Successful design-build projects offer an owner many benefits that add value to a project. These advantages include:
A design-build contract combines design and construction quality, cost, and schedule. One entity is accountable for everything. Design-build contracts foster partnering between team members, which in turn adds value to a project. When the same team designs the project also builds the project, there tends to be much more attention given to pricing and scheduling in the design phase. The total accountability also helps the design-build team avoid potential adversarial relationships that could arise under traditional, design-bid-build contracts.
Improved Project Quality
Using the design-build delivery system, the architect and contractor coordinate as a team, leaving an owner free to focus on the project’s scope and general decision making. This leads to a higher quality project that better suits the owner’s needs in the following ways:
• The design-build team works together to produce a complete set of construction documents. By contrast, with a design-bid-build delivery, the owner is responsible for providing complete documents to the contractor.
• Constructability can be reviewed throughout the design process by all members of the design-build team, thus leading to effective value engineering ideas created by the architect, contractor and engineer working together to maximize design and functionality while maintaining budgetary and schedule concerns.
Earlier Knowledge of Guaranteed Costs
The design-build delivery system allows the contractor to establish a guaranteed cost early on in the design phase. This allows the owner to make changes, request additional value engineering, or add scope to a project before the substantial design is complete.
Inherent to the design-build system is a savings of approximately 10% of the project costs. Value engineering and constructability review are enhanced and utilized continuously throughout the project duration. The early involvement of the design-build team is essential in maximizing the full potential of the design-build delivery system. Early on, decisions that can be made during the concept design phases that will impact the schedule and costs of the project more than any other phase of construction.
With a design-build delivery system, design and construction for a project can easily overlap, allowing for fast track construction. The client benefits from this shortened timeframe because construction costs can be reduced and the new building or home will be available for use sooner.
Improved Risk Management
Because the design-build team has the responsibility for developing drawings and specifications as well as constructing a fully-functioning facility or home, change orders for errors and omissions are virtually eliminated. Each stake holder on the design-build team is responsible for the risks they are best positioned to manage.
The overall project performance is enhanced through the partnering that is unique to the design-build delivery system. This alleviates the potential for the accusatorial conflicts realized when each entity is looking after their own best interests. You can see why we believe an integrated design-build approach is our preferred delivery system.
Rather than merely giving you our opinion, we thought we’d find out what independent sources had to say. Research results found the design-build delivery system significantly outperformed other delivery methods in terms of:
• Cost performance
• Schedule control
• Number of change orders
• Quality of end product, with reduced rework
To read the full research review, click here.