Design Build – Saving Time and Money


If you intend to construct a new building, many decisions must be made. “What, when, where, and why to build” are some basic questions to contemplate, but most importantly is “how to build”. Selecting the right delivery method for your project will answer this question. Determining the method should be made with utmost thought and deliberation, taking into consideration your project goals and objectives. Choosing the correct method is critical to project success for the entire project team including the architect, engineer, construction firm, subcontractors, financial institution, surety, and legal representation. Every member has a vested interest in a positive outcome of your project.

Our discussion today revolves around Design/Build, a well-accepted and effective project delivery method. And when done well, Design/Build delivers an excellent project experience for the owner and team.

The following are some of the unique characteristics and benefits of Design/Build and why it might be the best solution for your construction project.

Simplification…… Design/Build provides a single source procurement simplifying the owner’s contractual arrangements and project involvement. The Design/Build contract is an agreement in which one firm provides both architectural and construction services, eliminating the need for multiple contracts with separate members of the project team. There is one contract, one point of contact, and one source of responsibility for project success.

Harmony…… The biggest threat to project success is disagreements among the project team. In the “Traditional Delivery Method”, known as Design-Bid-Build, the owner enters into separate contracts with the architectural and construction firms. Both entities are ultimately looking out for their own best interest and not necessarily that of the team. When issues arise during the construction process, the finger pointing starts, blame is cast upon each other, and the project can quickly spiral into conflict. Conflicts ultimately manifest into change orders that may negatively affect the schedule and budget. But more importantly, conflicts erode trust and hinder project success.

When the project team works together without disagreements, project harmony can be achieved. Since Design/Build is a single source procurement, finger pointing is eliminated and conflicts amongst the project team can be avoided. However, if issues are encountered, they are settled internally and amicably. A project that is in harmony, is typically on-track and operating within budget where trust and communication is enhanced.

Direction…… One initial question every owner inevitably asks is “how much will it cost?”. If using the traditional method, costs will be known after the design is complete, bidding documents distributed, and bid results received by the owner. If bids exceed the owner’s budget, which is common today, projects are easily derailed. This occurs when the project is “over-designed” or operating on an unrealistic initial budget. The owner, having spent considerable time, energy and funds, must decide to either abandon the project or re-design. A re-design will increase the overall schedule, sometimes by weeks and the owner must solicit bids again, hoping that costs land within budget.

With Design/Build the construction firm and the architect are on-board from the start. The construction team will provide pre-construction services during the design including budgeting, scheduling, constructability reviews, etc. The Design/Build process incorporates delivering several budgets during the design phase by the construction team. Design phase budgeting has three benefits; provide a realistic initial budget, protection from “over-design”, but most importantly, it helps the owner determine which direction the project moves, either forward or is canceled.

Perspective…… Construction perspective during the project’s design is a central element of Design/Build. While the architects and engineers are designing, the construction team is providing the indispensable construction perspective regarding building systems, material selections, means and methods, etc. through periodic constructability reviews. This process assists in preventing over-design, initial over-costing, and aims to curb change orders during construction. Many change order situations will be identified during design through effective constructability reviews, saving project costs, preventing schedule delays while maintaining project harmony and trust with the owner.

Speed…… In the traditional method, projects take a very linear approach to the schedule. Separate time periods are allowed for three phases of a project; design, contractor bidding, and construction. However, an overlapping schedule is a key advantage to Design/Build. Construction can start before the design is complete creating the over-lap. For example, site work and foundation installation can occur before the final details of the design are determined. This type of overlapping schedule can save up to thirty percent in project time, which can translate into project cost savings for the owner.

Conclusion…… These are only a few of the many benefits of Design/Build. As you evaluate your project goals and objectives, consider how Design/Build might be the best answer to your “how to build” question. To learn more about Design/Build, please contact Pearson Construction at Their knowledgeable team can assist with your selection of delivery method and get you one step closer to the building you envision.

If you have decided to use Design/Build for your next project, look for our upcoming feature article, “How to Select the Right Design/Build Firm”.

Pearson Construction, founded in 1918, has over one hundred years of experience in the commercial, industrial, and institutional construction industries providing general contracting, Design/Build, and construction management services. Pearson has been providing Design/Build since 1956 with the inception of Pearson Engineering, (dba TERA Architects), their in-house architectural firm.

To speak with one of our team members to determine if Design/Build is right for your construction project, fill out this form and we’ll contact you shortly.



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