Design-Build Delivery Method For Construction Projects: Fact and fiction

Design-Build Delivery Method For Construction Projects: Fact and fiction

, Design-Build Delivery Method For Construction Projects: Fact and fiction

Below is an article by Glenn Ebersole published in the Reading Eagle Business Weekly: Design-Build in the “Building Insights” Column on January 12, 2021.

The construction industry continues to be concerned and frustrated with the Design-Bid-Build method of project delivery. Positive discussions continue about how Design-Build can reduce potentially costly and time-wasting design flaws and oversights. One major solution is to place the owner, architect, engineer, general contractor and key subcontractors on the same team during the planning and design of a project before actual construction begins. This facilitates collaboration and consultation with the owner to work out logistics and other project details.

Today, Design-Build construction has garnered increased interest and delivers nearly half of all projects nationwide, across every sector, according to FMI. However, too many people who have never used Design-Build still have some misconceptions about this process. Here are some examples to help differentiate fact and fiction about Design-Build.

FICTION: Design-Build teams are less creative than an independent architect.

FACT: Creativity is dependent upon the team and the individuals that make up that team. The team is accomplished at designing and constructing. The team brings a larger pool of talent and creative solitons using their breadth of expertise.

FICTION: Owners lose control over their project in Design-Build projects.

FACT: In reality, the complete opposite is true. Design-Build encourages and sometimes requires Owners to be as involved as possible from start to finish, which is unlike the Design-Bid-Build process where Owners frequently hand over control to different entities. The project team designates a single point of responsibility so the Owner can communicate, make adjustments and convey any concerns during the project.

FICTION: Design-Build weakens competition.

FACT: This is not true. The Design-Build process strengthens competition. The Design-Bid-Build uses price as the primary deciding factor, while Design-Build adds additional competitive factors into the decision process, such as technical approach, experience, and then price. This approach ensures the owner that they will receive superior project results at the best value — higher quality and overall lower cost.

FICTION: Design-Build compromises quality for speed.

FACT: This is another false statement. Quality is paramount to any top Design-Build provider.

Faster speed of delivery of the project is attributed to the ability to perform certain activities simultaneously, but never carelessly. Design-Build firms possess a unique knowledge base and perspective to know how to do the most efficient sequencing of activities, which is a key factor to deliver projects expeditiously and with high quality.

FICTION: Design-Build increases risk for owners because of dealing with one company.

FACT: There are advantages to having one company overseeing the entire project. First, the Design-Build company provides a one-point of contact. The Design-Build firm is accountable for the entire project, including the budget, completion date and quality. Much more attention is given to pricing and scheduling in the design phase when using the Design-Build model. The costs of all aspects of the project are considered early on in the process.

BOTTOM LINE: The Design-Build team and the owner are “partners” during the planning, design and construction and have the mutual goal of completing a successful project that meets or exceeds the owner’s expectations.

Glenn Ebersole is a registered professional engineer and is the Executive Director, Strategic Business Development/Marketing for RCS Construction – a woman-owned general contractor firm – in Collegeville, PA. He can be reached at 610-415-1130 or

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