Key Takeaways

Design-build streamlines:
  • Unified Workflow: Integrates design and construction under a single entity, simplifying project delivery.
  • Time Efficiency: Overlapping phases accelerate project timelines, offering faster completion.
  • Enhanced Communication: Centralized communication reduces errors and streamlines project management.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Predetermined budgets and unified management help control expenses and minimize changes.
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The design-build process is gaining popularity as a better way to see a project through to completion. This project delivery method streamlines communication between all entities that will work on the project, which can sometimes save costs.

What is the design-build process?

Traditional projects, often called design-bid-build, often separate projects by tasks. The owner will start the project by hiring architects and engineers to produce a building design. Once this is completed, the project owners will start a bidding process to allow general contractors to review the specs and bid on the project. After bidding, the owner has two contacts – one with the design firm and one with the general contractor. Usually, the general contractor will work with subcontractors to move the project through different construction phases. 

Unlike the design-bid-build process, which involves separate entities, the design-build process uses a single entity responsible for all project aspects, including design and construction. It is often a preferred project delivery method for owners as they know exactly who to contact no matter what type of issue or question they may have. A single entity is responsible for all aspects of the build, including estimation, assessments, pre-construction, architecture, engineering, subcontracting, construction, and post-construction. And the design-build firm will manage all subcontracts with companies, including subcontractors, equipment providers, and material vendors. 

Typically, there are five phases of the design-build process. However, unlike traditional construction projects, these phases often overlap, which can save time and get a project done faster. 

Selecting a design-builder

Rather than starting with selecting an architect, you can often hold a competitive bidding process for design-builders. Once you have bids, you can choose the right design-builder for the project based on the estimated price, expertise, experience, credentials, and any other factors that may be relevant to your project. 

The pre-construction phase

The pre-construction phase is more important than many people realize. In this phase, your design builder learns about your vision and goals for the build project. Once they have this information, the architects and engineers can identify needs and work on floor plans and other preparatory elements. This part of the design-build process is also when you discuss your budget with the project team members and your expectations for project delivery. 

The architectural design phase

This project phase comes after your project team knows your needs, schedule, site, and the facility’s architectural and mechanical needs. This is also the phase of the design-build process where things occur differently than with the design-bid-build project delivery method. Architects are employed directly by the design-builder to create the preliminary building drawings and schematics. 

The construction phase

The construction phase is where the design-build process can save you a ton of time. The design-builder may already be preparing the project site while the design is still in progress. The overlap between construction and design can help any project owner meet more aggressive deadlines. This phase also involves the design-builder seeking bids from subcontractors to create a guaranteed maximum price. 

The post-construction phase

In the post-construction phase, the design-builder will complete walk-throughs and training for the facility operators and project owners. This type of handoff is crucial for all projects. 

What are the benefits of using a design-build process?

The design-build process allows for integrated project delivery that is considered from a holistic perspective throughout the entire project. Everyone works together toward a common goal. As such, there are multiple benefits to using this type of design and construction delivery method. 

A simple project delivery method

The design-build method unites many different roles working toward a common goal. A single entity manages one unified flow of work. This reduces the need for additional contracts; the project owner can use just one contract. Then, the design-builder will manage all other aspects of the project design and construction, including the work done with architects, engineers, and subcontractors. If the owner wants clarification on any aspect of the project, they can work with a centralized point of contact with the design-build firm, which streamlines communication and reduces the risk of misinterpretation. 

Faster time to completion

One of the most significant advantages of the design-build process is the speed at which projects can get done. Since the phases overlap, it can save the project owner crucial time, resulting in quicker completion of any construction project. The design-build process optimizes efficiency to achieve project deliverables much faster than alternative approaches. 

Streamlined communication

Another primary reason the design-build approach is gaining popularity has to do with efficiency in communication. With a traditional build method, the owner has to communicate many project needs, goals, and limitations with all parties working on the design phase and construction. And the need for communication with so many people increases the likelihood of miscommunication and errors. With the design-build approach, all communication is managed through one point of contact, who can then ensure that other members of the build team get the information they need to move forward appropriately. 

Cost savings

While the design-build process is much more efficient, it is also highly cost-effective. All parties agree to a set budget before the project begins, which helps reduce unexpected cost increases. It also holds all parties accountable for their stated project deliverables. 

Fewer change orders

Because the architect and contractor work together from the beginning of the project, fewer change orders are often needed. 

Better solutions

Because the design-build process includes all of the major players throughout the process, there is a greater likelihood that these parties can put their heads together and develop innovative solutions to any challenges that arise. And there is usually greater transparency to support better decision-making. 

The design-build process offers many benefits over the traditional design-bid-build process, especially for the owner, who may enjoy fewer demands on their time while still experiencing time and cost savings. To learn more about the design-build process or to determine whether it’s a good fit for your construction project, contact DBC Reno today.