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There are a wide variety of project delivery techniques out there, and one of the most popular is design-build. It has existed for hundreds of years and for a long time, it was known as “integrated project delivery.” However, in 1993, it would officially get its recognizable title of “design-build.” As with any reputable technique, it has a balance of good qualities and bad qualities. Before diving into this delivery method, one must take into account the design and build advantages and disadvantages.

Explaining the design and build method

The term “design and build”/”design-build” describes a specific type of procurement route. In it, a single contractor has designing duties (or finalizing the design) before constructing the works. This is in contrast to a traditional contract, where the client assigns designing to consultants and then a contractor builds the works.

Generally speaking, a construction contractor leads the team. They manage the whole project and take full responsibility for the work. However, while one team member leads, this delivery method focuses on collaborative efforts between the design and building teams.

With design-build, the contractor provides helpful insight regarding the design in relation to construct-ability and value engineering. By uniting forces, they produce cost-effective resolutions and variations on the design and the necessary materials.

If you want to learn more about design-build construction, check out our article What Is Design Build Construction And Why Is It Important.

Advantages of the Design Phase

1. Clarity and Precision: Imagine embarking on a journey without a map. The design phase serves as the meticulous blueprint that guides your project to fruition. By mapping out every intricate detail, you ensure a clear and precise path that minimizes ambiguity and aligns all stakeholders.

2. Creativity and Innovation: The design phase is the birthplace of ingenuity. Here, ideas are conceived, brainstormed, and nurtured into innovative concepts. Embrace this phase as an opportunity to challenge conventions and deliver solutions that captivate your audience.

3. Risk Mitigation: Early detection of potential obstacles is a cornerstone of successful project management. The design phase offers the chance to identify and address risks before they metamorphose into substantial hindrances during the build phase. This proactive approach saves time, resources, and anxiety.

4. Client Involvement: Engaging clients during the design phase establishes a collaborative foundation. Their input and feedback ensure that the design aligns with their vision, preempting discrepancies and fostering a harmonious partnership throughout the project.


Disadvantages of the Design Phase

1. Time-Consuming: In an era that thrives on instant gratification, investing time in the design phase is counterintuitive. However, this phase’s deliberation yields a smoother execution, reducing hiccups and course corrections down the road.

2. Over-Engineering: Walking the tightrope between comprehensive planning and over-engineering is crucial. Aiming for perfection can lead to complexity, straining resources, and diverting attention from the project’s core goals.

3. Changing Requirements: The dynamism of business landscapes can trigger evolving requirements. While agile methodologies accommodate alterations, substantial changes during the design phase could disrupt the project’s rhythm, impacting timelines and budgets.

Advantages of the Build Phase

1. Rapid Progress: Once the blueprint is inked, the project’s physical realization gains momentum. Tangible progress becomes visible, motivating teams and stakeholders alike with the realization that the project is taking shape.

2. Immediate Feedback: With the project materializing, stakeholders can offer real-time feedback. This iterative process allows for swift adjustments, ensuring the project’s alignment with evolving expectations.

3. Iterative Development: Flexibility flourishes during the build phase. Iterative development permits incremental enhancements, enabling you to incorporate improvements on the fly and adapt to unforeseen challenges.

Disadvantages of the Build Phase

1. Limited Room for Major Changes: Once the building blocks are in place, altering the foundation becomes daunting. Significant modifications can be time-consuming, costly, and disruptive to the project’s flow.

2. Potential for Misinterpretation: If design documentation needs more clarity, misinterpretations can manifest during construction. Misaligned interpretations might lead to rework, delaying the project and increasing costs.

3. Higher Risk of Errors: Any oversight or miscalculation during construction can cascade into more significant issues. Addressing errors post-build can be intricate, demanding resources and potentially compromising the project’s quality.

In conclusion, the design phase crafts the roadmap, embracing precision and innovation, while the build phase breathes life into those concepts. The savvy project manager navigates the advantages and disadvantages of both phases, orchestrating a harmonious blend that meets objectives and propels the project to unprecedented heights. Embrace the synergy of design and build; it’s your compass to triumph in the dynamic world of project management.

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Design-Bid-Build: what’s the difference?

Though off by only one word, the process of planning of design-build and design-bid-build are wildly different.

Design-Bid-Build is a simple method. The person who needs a building (i.e. the project owner) employs a designer to prepare the structure’s plans and schematics. Then, the designer can hire the necessary consultants who will report directly to the designer. Once the building is outlined, the designer’s work on the project is complete outside of providing consultation and tweaks.

With the plans, the project owner receives bids from an array of construction firms to create the building. The project owner will pick their favourite bid and employ the contractor. Like the designer, the contractor can hire subcontractors who would report directly to them rather than the project owner. Afterwards, the building is constructed by using the designer’s schematics and documents as a guide.


  • There are no delays between the design phase and the building phase where bids are compiled. There are seamless transitions between stages, and the construction often commences during the designing phase. This in turn causes fewer interruptions.
  • One group executes the building design and construction, meaning there are fewer risks. The team behind the construction has input during the design process. Moreover, the design team is open to addressing any building problems that arise during construction.
  • Admittedly, design-build is not the cheapest option of the bunch. However, the method’s costs are usually easier to predict. The design-builder can accumulate the price into a specific range that is close to what the final cost will be. This makes it easier for the project owner to budget.


  • A lot of design-build companies use stock designs in their possession, tweaking them to suit the project owner’s requests. While this does not apply to all design-builders, there are still low chances of getting a personalized design. Especially when taking integrated project delivery into consideration.
  • No bidding process means that the project owner is unable to choose their own price. Because of this, the prices are often higher. Additionally, a majority of design-builders won’t start working on an intricate building design until their official hiring. This makes price shopping for a design-builder more difficult.
  • All in all, the project owner has less involvement in the project than they do in traditional project delivery. At first, the project owner has a big role in designing and planning. However, once the project gets going, consultation from the project owner will be on more of an as-needed basis. The design-builder, meanwhile, will make more decisions.

Keep design and build advantages and disadvantages in mind

While design-build is one of the leading project delivery methods, it is not without its flaws. It is important to remember the advantages and disadvantages when going forward with it. If you have any questions or comments, contact us here BUILD IT’s contact info.