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Is Design-Bid-Build the Project Delivery Method for You?



This is Part Two of a six-part series on Project Delivery Methods. We want to arm you with the information you need to make informed decisions to set up your project for success. Throughout this series, we’ll be deep-diving into the project delivery method, selecting your team, and what contracts you’ll need.


Your project delivery method is the organization of planning, design, and construction services on your project. Very simply put, it’s how you’ll execute the project. But which system is right for you?


Today, we're going to talk about the Design-Bid-Build (DBB) system. This system can be broken down into four phases starting with planning, moving to design, then to bidding, and finally to construction. Team members will come in at different phases, and costs will be locked in at a specific phase as well.


The Design-Bid-Build Team

As with all project delivery systems, the architect will come in early, during the planning phase, and engage the engineering and specialty consultants during the design phase.

Once the project plans and specifications are developed, they’ll be put out for bid. Contractors will bid on them and the owner will evaluate the bids and formally select the general contractor. The general contractor will engage their subcontractors and together execute the project.


The key attribute of Design-Bid-Build

One of the key attributes of Design-Bid-Build is the fact that there are two separate contracts on the project. There is a contract between the owner and the architect or the design team, and a contract between the owner and the contractor.

The architect will assist the owner in obtaining bids and proposals, but the owner awards and signs that contract with the contractor. The owner warrants the sufficiency of the plans and specifications to the contractor.

This means that the contractor is responsible to build the project as it was designed in the plans and specifications. It also means that the designer is responsible to design to meet the professional standard of care. Lastly and most importantly, it means that the owner is responsible for any gaps that exist between the plans and specifications and their requirements for performance of the project.


What contracts will you need?

For Design-Bid-Build, the owner will have a contract with any of their owner-direct consultants. That can include surveying or geotechnical consultants, a project manager, or an owner’s representative. As we mentioned before, the owner will have a contract with the architect who will then have subcontracts with their specialty consultants and engineers. And the owner will have a contract with the contractor who will then hold contracts with their subcontracts. There also are surety contracts that are held by the contractor.


Is Design-Bid-Build the right delivery method for you?

What factors should you consider when trying to differentiate delivery systems? There are five areas that we like to look at:

  1. Owner Involvement. For Design-Bid-Build, the owner involvement is considerable, which makes this a great choice for owners that need or want a lot of control over their project.

  2. Accountability. This system is very widely used and understood with well-defined roles. However, there is no contractual relationship between the architect and the contractor, which means that any issues that come up could be sources of conflict between the architect, the contractor, and the owner. They also work in silos, making this is the least collaborative of the methods that we're going to explore together.

  3. Cost control. Value engineering occurs at the time of bidding. That can be mediated if you've engaged a pre-construction firm or a contracting firm in pre-construction services. But essentially your costs are not locked in until the end of the bidding process, which is very late in the project.

  4. Timeline. From a scheduling standpoint and schedule control, this is a segmented process the architect and contractor work in silos. Design-Bid-Build is a longer timeline for the project than other delivery methods.

  5. Risk assignment. The owner warrants the sufficiency of the plans and specs which means the owner carries substantial risk.


If your project requires considerable owner control and you have a flexible timeline, Design-Bid-Build might be the right delivery method for you! Join us next week as we continue to discuss other delivery methods. And be sure to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for our latest videos and tips!



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