As developers review new construction projects, a recurring decision must be made in the early stages of development: Should the project be design-bid-build or design-build? These are the two primary delivery methods utilized in the industry, both of which have benefits and weaknesses. We’ve taken the time to review what differentiates the two so you can understand them better.
This process is selected most commonly when pricing is the major driving force behind the decision, as the low bid usually wins. The delivery method starts by taking a project to a design team (which is comprised of consultants, architects and engineers) to create a set of documents that can be used to solicit bids from construction companies. Once design documents are completed the project is put out to bid in a process that is usually managed by the Architect or an owner representative. The objective of the bid process is to solicit the lowest price from a construction company for the specified work. Once the lowest bidder is identified, the owner will then enter into a contract to build what was designed. You can learn more about this process here on our website.
The Design-Build process utilizes one construction company to oversee all steps of the project from design to completion. This delivery method creates a turn-key solution for developers, as it can be customized to meet the needs of the developer. Developers can tailor what their Design-Builder will manager in the process from property acquisition and municipal approvals, to all design documents, submittals and construction. This framework provides a lot more freedom to developers who may be working on several projects at once. You can learn more about this process here on our website.
So which is the best delivery method?
Both Design-Build and Design-Bid come with their fair share of pros and cons. Next, we’ll review those pluses and minuses to see if there’s a clear winner.
Benefits of Design-Bid:
–Cost: Design-Bid is most often used when your project has a fixed budget. This process elicits the most competitive proposals from competent builders.
–Control: In this delivery method owners have much clearer control over pricing, design, and approvals.
–Transparent: Design-Bid captures a client’s upfront wants and needs.
If you ask D&B Construction’s Project Executive, Jim Aylmer, he’ll tell you that he prefers Design-Bid-Build for larger projects because it “creates an accurate pricing exercise as it relates to a client’s budget, it allows time for value engineering and more cost-effective budgeting, and the end product is mapped out.” Whenever he has been involved with Design-Build projects they have been for smaller-scale projects, as these designs tend to be more simplified and there is more involvement from the owner throughout the build process.
Negatives of Design-Bid:
–Disputes and Delays: When you do a competitive bid process you will only get pricing on exactly what is on your drawings. If your design team misses anything on the construction documents that were used for the bid, you will often end up with finger-pointing in the field and costly change orders.
–Time: It can take a long time to organize a design team, create documents, put the project out to bid, go through rebidding and post-bid value-engineering, identify a contractor, and enter into agreements all before you get a shovel in the ground.
–Disjointed: Due to the number of disconnected parties in a Design-Bid construction project, you may encounter communication issues as the owner, designers and builder, along with their trades, all act independently, worried about covering their own portions of the project instead of the entirety.
Drawbacks of Design-Build:
–Non-competitive: The non-competitive nature of this process doesn’t result in a lowest cost proposal from multiple bids.
–Trust: Due to the amount of control a developer is giving up to the Design-Builder, you need to have a lot of trust in the team you’ve selected.
Benefits of Design-Build:
–Efficiency: Consolidating the entire process in one entity allows the most coordination throughout the entire construction process from design to completion. The simplification of design-build allows developers to focus on multiple projects at once.
–Customization: This delivery method is great for projects that are unique in finishes and structures. Linking the construction and design teams from the beginning ensure constructability with real-time cost adjustments. This allows owners to effectively manage budgets before breaking ground.
–Flexibility: Both to the budget and final end product
–Value-Engineering: Throughout the process, developers can monitor and adjust various components of the design for substantial equivalents that can save time and money during construction.
–Enhanced Communication: Having one central decision entity (the design-builder) allows for free flow of information from the start of a project. All trades, designers, and owners are communicating through the contractor, which ensures unified messaging and vision through one cohesive team.
Tim Cox, President and CEO of Meister-Cox Architects, emphasizes how he “really likes how it is a team effort when doing design-build projects,” explaining that in these types of projects he works with D&B, the client, and at some point will bring in the subcontractors if they are going to do the design and the drawings for the mechanicals, electrical, and plumbing systems. “It’s a give and take and just part of the value-engineering process really, he explains.”
–Timing: Utilizing a design-build approach provides a project that is well scheduled and designed before the start of the construction. Having an early jump on a project’s components allows the builder to coordinate the trades further in advance. This allows the various stages of active construction to flow seamlessly.
Can We Declare An Ultimate Winner?!
In short, both construction delivery methods have their significance. As it is with any construction project, what you end up going with ultimately depends on your final usage. Timing and cost are generally the prevailing guidelines for making this decision. Ultimately, when choosing between Design-Build or Design-Bid a careful analysis of your needs and the points mentioned above should be considered in order to determine the best option for your project.
Jim, our Project Executive, typically would recommend Design-Bid projects for “any and all out of the ground projects.” The reason being? “The client and design team already have the plan in place. We as the construction team then need to execute based off of these design documents,” he explains. Kennett Pointe, Butler Square Apartments, Veterinary Emergency Group, Griswold Home Care, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Souderton ambulatory building are recent examples of Design-Bid jobs that he has played a vital role in.
“Typically, major developers will not likely be performing a project based off of Design-Build. If I had to choose, I would 99% steer a client in the direction of Design-Bid-Build,” he concludes.
Food For Thought:
-If you had to choose one over the other, which would you lean towards and why?
-Are there any pros / cons you would add to the list for either construction method?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the above questions! Feel free to provide your feedback in the comment section below.
If you’d like to discuss what is right for your next project, we’d be glad to talk it through with you in more detail. Reach out to us today to learn more.
Join us in wishing Luca continued success as he pursues his degree in Civil Engineering at Drexel University! We know he will accomplish great things.
How his days at D&B were spent:
“The majority of my days were spent on jobsites shadowing site superintendents. My responsibilities included communicating with my intern supervisor, site supervisors, signing in on jobs, wearing appropriate safety equipment on site, and completing weekly site inspections when needed.”
What he learned:
“A lot of valuable skills and information on how a construction management business runs both in the office and on the site. Some of the skills I learned was the importance of communication on the jobsite and in the office. I was able to sit in on meetings in the office and also saw communication take place on the job site through formal meetings, RFIs, and informal communication when the job superintendent talks with subcontractors onsite.”
Some of his favorite memories:
“Some of my favorite memories are coming back to my internship after Winter or Spring break. My supervisors were very excited to see me since they hadn’t seen me in over a week, and it was the best feeling. Another favorite thing to do is to look back at the old photos on Procore and see the progress that has been made on the sites I have been attending the company. I have seen rubble turn into an 8,000 SF home.”
What he is most proud of:
“Everything that I was able to accomplish from this internship within the past year. Looking back and seeing everything I have done and learned from this amazing experience has been great.”
How this internship impacted him:
“This internship has helped me influence my plans for the future. Before this internship, my plan was to attend college to study civil engineering, and although that plan hasn’t changed I owe the confidence I now have for this major to this internship with D&B. Being at a company almost every day now for the past year has helped me truly understand my passion. This provides comfort to me because I can finally say with confidence that I know what I am doing in my future. I am very thankful for both this internship program and D&B for providing me with this comfort.”
Q: What do most of your days look like on the job-site?
A: “I spend most of my days shadowing and working closely with the commercial Site Superintendent, Barry, at Stratix’s job site, as well as shadowing John, the residential Superintendent.”
Q: Tell us about a day / task that you enjoyed most at your internship so far and why?
A: “I enjoy looking over project submittals the most because I get to see how different applications on the job were approved.”
Q: What are some things you’ve learned throughout your internship so far?
A: “I learned the importance of safety on a job-site is by far the most important aspect. OSHA safety requirements are the guidelines for construction job-sites. I’ve also learned that everything must get approved before even starting and this can hold projects up for months. I’m learning about what is on the drawings and how to interpret what is on them. I also have been sitting in meetings and participating in weekly site inspections to really get a grasp of things.”
Q: What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself so far through your internship experience?
A: “That I know more about the construction industry than I thought I did.”
Q: What would you say is the most important skill you developed / strengthened at your internship so far?
A: “I learned the importance of listening.”
Q: What are your internship goals for the rest of your time with D&B?
A: “To continue to be able to complete individual tasks and be trusted at completing these tasks.”
Q: What were your responsibilities throughout this internship?
A: “My responsibilities included researching, writing, and editing articles for blog posts and newsletters. I learned about graphic design and how to create things in design programs like Canva and Adobe. I also learned how to navigate WordPress and the back end of a website, as well as MailChimp. I completed Benchmarking analysis and learned the differences between preparing copy for social media and blogs/newsletters.”
Q: Of all your responsibilities, which did you enjoy most and why?
A: “I enjoyed creating things for D&B on Canva. It gave me a chance to be creative and really understand branding. Besides that I also really liked coming up with research for articles and gathering information in general. I liked interviewing people and getting quotes and information. Interviewing people was a great way for me to learn more about some of the staff here at D&B.”
Q: How was your overall experience interning with D&B Construction?
A: “I was lucky to come into a business that was not only friendly and accepting, but that also had knowledgeable people who I could learn a great deal from, especially since this was my first internship experience. I rate my experience 10 out of 10 because coming into this, I had no idea what my internship was going to be like, but being here for a semester allowed me to learn more than I ever expected to about what goes on in a business. I also strongly believe that I gained a lot of hands on experience, from having my own computer and my own documents to work on in the office, to being able to go out to the job sites and take photos.”
Q: Do you feel this internship enabled you to apply knowledge and skills to prepare for college?
A: “Yes! Since I am in high school, I don’t have a focused major just yet, but my internship coordinator, Angela, went through a list of different tasks at the start of my internship. I was able to voice my opinion on what I thought I would be good at, what interested me, and what I wanted to learn more about. This allowed me to use my skills to the best of my ability throughout the internship. For example, I took Honors English all four years of high school, so I was able to write a lot of blogs and articles during this internship. I was given support and encouragement throughout training during my internship. If I didn’t know something, that was alright because then I was taught it, and that allowed me to learn new things and gain new skills. I really feel that this internship confirmed that I am on the right path. Through this internship experience I even realized that I would like to do some sort of marketing in my future career.”
Q: Do you feel this internship helped prepare you for your future career?
A: “Going into my internship I knew I wanted a business career, but I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do in the business world. This internship helped me gain knowledge about the business world and what really goes into marketing. It not only gave me an idea of what I want to go for in college, but I also gained experience and have a leg up compared to to my peers since I have an internship on my resume already. Not a lot of high school kids get this experience. This experience is valuable because it not only looks great for future jobs but will help me with getting into college.”
Q: What did you learn throughout your internship that you did not expect would be so important?
A: “I learned many things at my internship, but one thing that I didn’t think would be that important is branding and how we have the same colors and logos for everything. Another important thing I learned is the importance of having your business being a thought leader in the industry, not just as a company that does construction. I learned so many workforce skills that a classroom can’t teach me.”
Q: What are you most proud of from the work you produced throughout your internship and why?
A: “I am most proud of the blogs I wrote and posted with the help of my internship coordinator. It is something that I can say I worked on from start to finish and can add to my portfolio.”
Q: How would you describe D&B Construction’s company culture in three words?
A: “Innovative, thought-leaders, and welcoming.”