Interestingly, it has been the method of choice for some years for the greater percentage of projects in both Europe and Japan. Simply stated, in the design-build process an owner contracts with one firm to provide both design and construction services.
The Design-Build Institute of America attributes the increased interest in design-build to a variety of owners' needs. Prevalent among these is the need to obtain better quality and continuous improvement in project delivery and in the final product, and allocating responsibilities and risks to the most capable party to reduce costs.
Specifically, some of the many advantages to be gained from the design-build mechanism are:
• Early cost input to establish and control budgets.
• Guaranteed construction costs are known far earlier. The decision to proceed with a project can be made before considerable design expense and with a secure knowledge of final cost.
• Total project time is reduced since design and construction are overlapped and bidding periods and redesign are eliminated. This time savings results in lower costs and early use of the facility.
• Owner has single source responsibility. The contractor and architect/engineer are allied and work together as a team, giving the owner the opportunity to focus on scope and needs definition rather than spending time coordinating between the builder and designer.
• Resultant quality is higher with single source responsibility. Unlike the traditional design-bid-build approach in which an owner certifies that drawings are complete and error free, in design-build an owner outlines their terms and the design-builder guarantees that it will furnish documents that are error free.
• Change orders are essentially eliminated since the design-builder has responsibility for developing drawings as well as constructing a fully functioning facility.
• Architectural, engineering and contractor fees are determined from the beginning and kept to a minimum.
• Misunderstandings decrease and-since most adversarial roles are eliminated-this results in legal fees being kept to a minimum.
As with any other project, design-build project delivery necessitates optimum planning for success. In particular, it is most important that an owner clearly define their needs in the scope, definition and request for proposal documents. The most difficult task in preparing a design-build request is to outline specific requirements for compliance while avoiding restrictive conditions which would inhibit enterprising solutions. Offering flexibility while fixing responsibility is the ideal goal.