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Design / Build Concept

 The Definition of Design/Build

Design/Build construction is the process where a company (design/build firm) provides a project with three essential components:

  • The initial design
  • The financial basis or budget
  • The performance

The design/build firm provides the owner with the design and construction. By giving the client what is in his or her best interest, the entire process is able to go much smoother.

What Design/Build is Not

Design/Build is not the only way that a construction project may initiate and proceed. Another way is the plan and bid procedure. Separate groups perform these two completely intertwined parts of the process. An architect or designer creates a set of plans and specifications. These are then provided to several general contractors. One of these contractors is then selected by the owner based on the lowest bid. This method of selection is very unfortunate since all the bidders concentrate on their own interests, instead of that of the owners. Every short cut, minimal construction method, quality of material and possible change orders for future revenues are the main considerations from all the bidders in providing the low bid.

The plan and bid method also means two separate contracts for the design and construction. This limits the owner to little more than litigation if problems arise. Responsibility and cause always become a clouded issue between designer and contractor when they are separate. This also has the architect and contractor each having their own ideas concerning the plans, methods and specifications. Finally, it is the slowest way to complete a project. By separating the design from the construction, the time line is greatly expanded.

Design/Build Essentials

Design/Build has some very essential points that all reflect a better overall project for the owner. Budget is first determined by the general scope of the concept and comparing to similarly completed projects. With knowledge of costs early and budgets set, unexpected elevated costs cannot occur. More often than not, a set of independent plans that are designed with little realistic thought or knowledge of true construction costs can exceed an owner's expected costs by 60 or more percent. This, unfortunately, is not found out until the plans are put out for bid. With design/build the design and construction come under one contract, another plus for the owner. The designer or engineer and the construction company are more unified and work together in recommendations to the owner, another plus. Finally, this is usually the fastest method of completing a project.

Advantages of Design/Build

The advantages of design/build are clearly evident. A reduction in the overall time is very important. Less time and fewer meetings are required. Owners need not spend as many meetings first with their designer and engineer and then another set of meetings with their selected contractor. Budgets are set early and costs are not an uncertainty during the design. And finally, the best projects are those that have the owners involved in the decision-making. Fewer problems arise because the project is so well defined. This also relates to no change orders unless there is a legitimate change in the scope. All these advantages help the owner receive a project on time, at budget and as expected.