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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.

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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.

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.