Advantages and Disadvantages of Design/Build


Design /build has become a traditional or common method of project delivery that continues to expand its market share.  In this delivery method the designer of record is either contracted by the contractor or the constructor utilizes its own “in-house,” design staff. In either case, the constructor takes responsibility for the design. Once designed, the constructor builds the project for the client. This method of project delivery has many advantages and some disadvantages as in the following:


  1. Efficiency – When a common vision or concept is shared between the designer, estimator and constructor, fewer details need to be drawn and fewer meetings would need to be held for the purposes of estimating and construction. Having all disciplines in the pre-construction process under one roof allows for information to flow quickly and effectively. For example: when there is a question on the cost of materials or on a detail the decision is made immediate. On average, it will take about (2) weeks to turnaround a set of drawings ready for estimating; compared to 2-3 months on the typical design/bid/construct project delivery method. Obviously, it takes much fewer man hours and therefore cost less.
  2. Responsibility – Design/Build eliminates the act of “finger pointing”. If there is an issue in the design or on-site the responsibility is directed to the contractor to resolve the issue.
  3. Cost Savings – Most design /build projects are done on a competitive basis; utilizing the creativity of the design /builder to achieve the owner’s desired result. Design/build is not intended to be an “apples to apples” purchasing situation. Much of the competitive value is based on performance specifications rather than a conservative design by a firm that has already been awarded a contract.
  4. Team Orientation – Most disciplines are competitively bid and selected not necessarily by cost but by value. Once the team is formed, the attention turns to focusing on results and if challenges arise, there will be solutions rather than blame.
  5. Customer Experience – To the extent possible, the owner or owner’s rep is encouraged to participate in the process that promotes openness and communication at all levels. The constant input and feedback lends itself to an environment of continuous improvement and learning. The primary gage of a successful project is the final evaluation that the customer gives.



  1. Owner involvement – Design/Build requires a level of involvement by the owner, especially during the pre-construction phase. While this is true in all project delivery methods, Design/Build will require shorter yet more intense involvement.
  2. Analysis – As mentioned earlier, Design/Build is not intended to be “apples to apples”. It can be difficult to correctly analyze builder proposals.


In conclusion Design/Build is not always the best solution; however for the majority of commercial and industrial projects it offers many advantages.


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