Design / Build

Design/build focuses on combining the design, permitting, and construction schedules in order to streamline the traditional design/bid/build This process traditionally would not shorten the time it takes to complete the individual tasks of creating construction documents, acquiring building and other permits, or actually constructing the building.  However, the design/build process would bring together design and construction professionals in a collaborative environment to complete both the design and construction simultaneously.

Traditionally the design/build team is responsible for both the design and construction of the project. If this team is contractor led, the process is known as "contractor-led design/build". If the team is design firm lead, the process is known as "design-led design/build". In either case, the organization employed by the owner rarely handles both aspects of design and construction in-house.  In fact, the organization often subcontracts with on-site personnel (if design-led) as well as architects and engineers (if contractor-led).

Potential Challenges with a Design/Build Project #

  • Cost estimating for a design/build project is sometimes difficult because design documents are often preliminary and may change over the course of the project. As a result, design/build contracts are often written to allow for unexpected situations without penalizing either the design/builder or the owner.  Several organizations (such as the Design Build Institute of America) provide standardized form contracts for design-builders to use, but it is not unusual for the design/builder to provide its own contractual documents.
  • The owner must rely a great deal on the integrity, acumen, and competence of the design/builder. As the certainty of estimates decreases, the opinion of the construction professionals of the design-build firm must be trustworthy, accurate, and reasonably verifiable in order to minimize risk.
  • The brevity of the process restricts regulatory review efforts to a potentially cursory overview. Projects may be designed as they are built, thus providing those with the responsibility of oversight little to no time at all to review completed plans and specifications.
  • Projects completed before they may be reviewed can be forced into costly change orders to bring the project into compliance with regulatory requirements.

Potential Benefits of a Design/Build Project #

  • Increased accountability by the service provider,
  • Single source project delivery
  • An integrated solution for the owner or client that traditionally would reduce the "finger-pointing" that is often commonplace in contemporary construction projects
  • The owner can refer to only one with any questions or concerns regarding design revisions, project feedback, budgeting, permitting, construction issues, change orders, and billing.
  • The owner, the owner's other consultants, and the design/builder can work together to determine what methods and materials will maximize the owner's value.

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