design-build procurement

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What is design-build?

Design-Build is a procurement method where a client retains one firm to be responsible for both the design and construction of the capital project or program.  The arrangement often results in a strong team approach, where collaboration is championed, over antagonism from more traditional procurement methods such as general contracting.

What types of projects are ideal for design-build?

Most capital projects and programs would benefit from a strong design-build approach.  The most ideal would be redevelopments, relocations, and major renovations.

What is a key factor to consider when proceeding with a design-build arrangement?

The key factor, as in any contractual relationship, is trust.  The client and the design-build firm must trust one another.  The client has the advantage in this procurement method to keep the entire team accountable by keeping the design-build firm accountable.  In the more traditional design-bid-build scenario, the client often finds themselves in the middle of disputes between the design team and construction team.  This oftentimes leads to conflict, change orders, and delays.  If managed by an effective design-build firm, these problems can be greatly minimized by bringing the design and construction teams together into one collaborative environment.

What are the key factors to consider when selecting a design-build firm?

The key factors would be similar for this procurement approach as any other method.  The firm's experience, expertise, and references would be key evaluation criteria.  Remember that in capital projects and programs, the team will likely be in place for several years.  It is critical that there is a strong working relationship based on trust and accountability and this extends to all stakeholders.  Design-build firms with high repeat business is usually a very good indicator that the work they do meets or exceeds the client’s expectations, especially within the construction industry.

What are the disadvantages to design-build?

Design-build may not be ideal for clients with large in-house construction departments, where architectural and engineering disciplines are already employed by the firm.  In these relationships, a more traditional general contracting relationship may be more ideal since much of the design does not need to be carried out by an external entity.  

What are the advantages to design-build?

The greatest advantages with a design-build approach is that conflict is minimized, hereby, minimizing overall risk; and total project costs can be identified early and schedule can be fast-tracked compared with more traditional methods of procurement.  For clients with less construction expertise in house, design-build is an ideal solution over any other method.