× 844-762-8449

March 7, 2024

Design Build vs Design Bid Build: Comparing Construction Delivery Methods

CALL NOW 844-762-8449
In the construction industry, two prominent project delivery methods are commonly debated: design-build and design-bid-build. The design-build method streamlines project delivery through a single contract between the owner and the design-build team. This approach fosters collaboration, as the design and construction phases overlap, and a unified workflow can potentially reduce timelines and overall project costs. On the other hand, design-bid-build is the more traditional route, separating design and construction contracts and often involving competitive bidding. This method allows the owner to have more direct influence over the design process before construction bids are solicited. Choosing the right approach affects not only the immediate construction phase but the entire lifecycle of the project. Each method carries its distinct benefits and potential drawbacks. In design-build, the unified team is accountable for the entirety of the project, potentially leading to streamlined communication and a cohesive vision. However, design-bid-build offers transparency in pricing and design options, which may appeal to clients who prefer greater direct oversight and distinct phases. Understanding the differences in project management, cost, timeframe, quality, risk mitigation, and contractual relationships is vital to making an informed decision that aligns with project goals.

Key Takeaways

  • Design-build combines design and construction services for streamlined project delivery.
  • Design-bid-build offers distinct phases for design and construction with separate contracts.
  • Understanding each method’s impact on project management, cost, and risk is crucial.

Design Bid Build

Overview of Design Build

In the design build approach, you have the convenience of working with one entity that takes on the responsibilities of both designing and constructing your project. This can streamline communication and integration between the architectural design and the actual building process.

Advantages of Design Build

  • Enhanced Collaboration: Your design build team works together from the start, fostering better cooperation and innovative solutions.
  • Time Efficiency: With an overlapping design and construction phase, you see quicker project delivery, eliminating the waiting periods between separate design and bidding phases.
  • Cost Savings: With a consolidated team, you’re likely to experience integrated project management that can reduce overall costs.

Challenges of Design Build

  • Less Competitive Pricing: Due to the singular team approach, you may encounter fewer competitive bidding opportunities.
  • Limited Design Input: You might find you have less influence over design details as the project progresses because the same team is handling both design and construction.

Overview of Design Bid Build

In the traditional Design Bid Build process, you engage with separate entities for design and construction. Typically, your project will go through distinct phases from conception to completion.

Advantages of Design Bid Build

  • Clear Contracts: Your contracts are straightforward as you hire an architect and a general contractor separately. This allows for precise definitions of roles and responsibilities.
  • Competitive Bidding: You can benefit from the competitive bidding process that often leads to lower construction costs. Builders bid on the design, allowing you to select the offer that presents the best value.

Challenges of Design Bid Build

  • Sequential Timeline: Project phases occur one after the other, which can extend the total timeline for your project. It’s important to plan for a schedule with possible delays.
  • Less Collaboration: With separate contracts for design and construction, there’s an inherent risk of reduced communication and collaboration, potentially leading to conflicts or design issues during the build phase.

Comparison of Project Management

Design Build In the realm of project delivery, your choice between design-build and design-bid-build will significantly shape your project management experience. Understanding the nuanced differences can ensure your project aligns with your expectations in terms of workflow, stakeholder engagement, and accountability.

Project Workflow

In a design-build setup, designers and builders operate under a single contract, creating a streamlined workflow where project phases often overlap. This can lead to faster project delivery as there’s a seamless transition from design to construction. In contrast, design-bid-build involves sequential phases where you complete the design before soliciting bids from contractors, potentially extending the overall timeline.

Stakeholder Engagement

Your engagement with stakeholders varies distinctly. With design-build, you experience a collaborative environment from project inception to completion, as designers and contractors work together from the start. The benefits of early collaboration are notable. However, in design-bid-build, stakeholder engagement is more compartmentalized; first, you deal with designers, and once the design is finalized, you shift focus to builders.


Accountability is clearer in a design-build project since one entity is responsible for both design and construction, leading to fewer disputes and simplified resolutions. The singular responsibility contrasts with design-bid-build, where you must manage multiple contracts, potentially facing more challenges if conflicts or issues arise between separate design and construction firms.

Cost Analysis

In assessing the cost implications of design-build (DB) compared to design-bid-build (DBB), you will want to consider both up-front estimations and how costs are managed throughout the project.

Cost Estimation

Under a Design-Bid-Build model, your cost estimation occurs mainly after the completion of the design phase, as contractors bid on the project specifications. The solidified design helps you gain a detailed understanding of costs upfront, but changes down the line may lead to additional expenses. In contrast, a Design-Build approach integrates the design and construction phases, allowing for more dynamic cost estimation. This can potentially result in lower costs due to the collaborative effort to streamline the project from start to finish. A study on the Comparison of Design-Bid-Build and Design-Build delivery methods suggests that DB projects are often less expensive to build compared to DBB projects due to this integration.

Cost Control

For Design-Bid-Build, maintaining control over costs can be challenging once the project enters the construction phase. DBB’s sequential process may result in higher costs due to change orders or unforeseen site conditions that weren’t accounted for during the bidding. With Design-Build, cost control is enhanced as the same entity is responsible for both design and construction. This can lead to a reduction in change orders and more effective management of costs throughout the project. An analysis by the Construction Institute found that Design-Build projects typically see less cost growth and faster delivery, aiding in tighter cost control.

Timeframe Considerations

When you’re choosing between Design-Build and Design-Bid-Build, one of the primary differences lies in the overall timeline of your project. The structure of each approach can significantly affect scheduling and when your project will reach completion.

Scheduling and Deadlines

In Design-Build (DB), the collaborative nature of the process often leads to more integrated scheduling. Since design and construction phases overlap, and a single entity is responsible for both, there can be a substantial reduction in total project time. This method can fast-track schedules, particularly beneficial if you’re facing strict deadlines. For instance, stakeholders may work together from the outset, enabling construction to begin before the final design is complete. Conversely, Design-Bid-Build (D-BB) has distinct and sequential phases. Once the design is completely finalized, it is then put out to bid, which can introduce delays. Each separate phase has its own timeframe, and the total time to completion is often longer due to this lack of overlap between design and construction activities. However, you benefit from clear cut-off points for each phase, possibly leading to more definitive scheduling in the earlier stages.

Project Delivery

With DB, you can often expect a faster project delivery due to tightened schedules and concurrent phase execution. The nature of this collaboration can lead to fewer change orders and a quicker transition from one phase to the next. For instance, if a project is expected to take one year in a D-BB format, the same project might be completed in as little as nine months using DB, barring any unforeseen complications or changes. In contrast, a D-BB project’s delivery time is typically extended. Each phase completion is a prerequisite for the commencement of the next, resulting in a more linear progression. This separation can be a boon for ensuring detailed attention to each stage but can extend the timeframe if any phase encounters delays, requiring thorough review and adjustments.

Quality of Outcome and Risk Mitigation

Quality Control Construction When selecting a project delivery method, understanding the differences in quality of outcome and risk mitigation between design-build and design-bid-build is essential for your project’s success.

Quality Control

In a design-build system, one entity is responsible for both design and construction, which often results in enhanced quality control. Communication is streamlined through a single point of responsibility, making it easier to ensure that quality standards are met throughout the entire process. On the other hand, design-bid-build projects inherently include more parties and thus more points of contact, which may increase the risk of quality-related issues due to miscommunications or the differing objectives of separate contractors. For comparison:
  • Design-build: Integrated team working together may lead to higher quality outcomes.
  • Design-bid-build: Separated roles can create disconnects that potentially undermine quality.

Risk Management

Risk management differs between these two methods primarily due to the contract structure. In design-build projects, the risk is more consolidated since the design-builder assumes responsibility for the entire project. This typically allows for better risk forecasting and management. Meanwhile, in design-bid-build arrangements, you will deal with multiple contracts, which can distribute and sometimes even obscure the lines of risk. An example of risk distribution:
  • Design-build: Consolidated risk with a unified team addressing issues as they arise.
  • Design-bid-build: Distributed risk creating the need for diligent oversight across separate contracts.
By being cognizant of these factors, you can better navigate the complexities of project delivery methods and their impact on the quality and risks of your project.

Contractual Relationships

In the realm of construction procurement, your understanding of Contractual Relationships is crucial. These relationships delineate how project parties are selected and their legal and financial commitments.

Contractor Selection Process

In a Design-Build (DB) setup, you choose a single entity to take on both design and construction responsibilities, streamlining the team selection process. The Design-Build structure promotes collaboration from the get-go, as you engage with one team for the entire project. Conversely, the Design-Bid-Build (DBB) approach requires that you complete two distinct steps: hiring a designer to produce the project plans and then soliciting bids from contractors to carry out the construction. These discrete phases necessitate more time and greater involvement in each selection.

Legal and Financial Responsibilities

In a DB project, your legal and financial risks are generally consolidated with the Design-Builder. This means a singular contract captures all aspects of the construction process, which can simplify dispute resolution should an issue arise. For a DBB project, you hold separate contracts: one with the designer and one with the contractor. Each party has defined roles, and you are responsible for ensuring the plans and specifications are adequate. These divided responsibilities might lead to more complexity in legal and financial dealings, especially if conflicts occur between the designer and contractor.

Case Studies and Industry Examples

When you’re exploring the differences between design-build and design-bid-build, real-world examples can illuminate the potential benefits and challenges of each approach. Design-Build:
  • The Pentagon Renovation Program serves as a notable instance where the design-build process was utilized. In revitalizing this historic structure, the aim was to preserve its essence while equipping it for future requirements. The design-build method facilitated a more streamlined and cohesive workflow, aligning the design and construction teams’ objectives towards a singular vision. For more specifics on the Pentagon project and its outcomes, consider DBIA Case Studies.
  • Comparison studies between design-build and design-bid-build projects illustrate the respective advantages of each methodology. For instance, analysis shows that the design-build approach can lead to better cost and schedule control, key considerations in project management. However, your project’s nature may suit the sequential phases and defined roles found in design-bid-build, depending on the needed oversight or complexity of the design. Insights on design-bid-build’s defined project phases can be seen in a review from ASD Global.
Delivery Method Main Advantage Consider For
Design-Build Integrated services and fast-tracked schedules Time-sensitive projects
Design-Bid-Build Clearly defined roles and sequential phases Projects requiring detailed oversight
Remember that each project is unique, and the optimal delivery method depends on your specific goals and constraints.

Frequently Asked Questions

In navigating the complexities of construction methodologies, you may have questions regarding the financial and procedural differences between Design-Build and Design-Bid-Build. Here are some specific details addressing common inquiries.

What are the cost differences between Design-Build and Design-Bid-Build systems?

Design-Build often leads to cost savings through integrated team collaboration and the potential for accelerated schedules. In contrast, Design-Bid-Build projects may incur higher overall costs due to distinct, sequential project phases.

How do salaries compare between Design-Build and Design-Bid-Build projects?

Salaries within Design-Build and Design-Bid-Build projects typically align with industry standards regardless of the project delivery method. Variations in salary may be more heavily influenced by geographical location, project complexity, and individual company practices rather than the delivery model itself.

What are the major pros and cons of the Design-Build method versus Design-Bid-Build?

The Design-Build method fosters greater collaboration and can fast-track projects, but it may also limit competitive bidding. On the other hand, Design-Bid-Build allows for distinct bidding on design and construction, which may increase competition but can lead to less integrated project solutions.

How do the delivery schedules of Design-Build and Design-Bid-Build compare?

Design-Build projects are known for their accelerated schedules as design and construction phases can overlap. In contrast, Design-Bid-Build projects have defined, sequential phases, usually resulting in longer project duration.

Can you outline the main advantages and disadvantages of the Design-Bid-Build method?

The Design-Bid-Build approach is a trusted process with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. However, this method can lead to a lack of collaboration and increased duration and costs due to its segmented approach to design and construction.

What are the key differences between Design-Bid-Build and Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) models?

Design-Bid-Build involves separate contracts for design and construction, while CMAR integrates a construction manager early into the design process, who assumes risk and provides managerial services throughout. This distinction can impact project collaboration, risk allocation, and overall timeline management.


Our Reviews

Based on 177 reviews
Very friendly and accommodating.
Response from the owner: Hi, Tyler - thank you for your wonderful, 5-star review! We appreciate the opportunity to earn your business and please reach out if you need assistance with your roll-off dumpster. - WRUSA Team
Great customer service. Stephanie was very patient and kind
Response from the owner: Hi, Sonya - thank you for leaving a fantastic, 5-star review based on your positive interaction with Stephanie! We appreciate the opportunity to earn your business, and we are so happy to hear that you loved the customer service that you received. If you have questions or need any assistance with your roll-off dumpster, then please feel free to reach out to Stephanie or the team and we will be happy to help you. - WRUSA Team
Outstanding service from Mason. Very knowledgable. Very nice and went above and beyond. I would definitely call him again.
Response from the owner: Hi, Trisha - thank you for leaving a 5-star review based on your fantastic experience with Mason! We are so glad to know that you felt as though you received top-notch customer service. If you need any assistance with your roll-off dumpster or have questions, then please feel free to reach out and Mason will be more than happy to help. - WRUSA Team
Ricardo was very understanding and patient. Helped rent the appropriate dumpster for the job. Thanks.
Response from the owner: Hi! Thank you for your excellent review! We are so glad to hear that you had a great experience with Ricardo. If you need assistance or have questions about your dumpster rental, then please do not hesitate to contact Ricardo or our team. - WRUSA Team
Vanessa B. was extremely pleasant, helpful, and went above and beyond! She was able to answer all of my questions, and was able to get me set up with a drop off date very swiftly.Pricing-wise, the price for a dumpster was the best out of any other quotes I received, so this was a win win!
Response from the owner: Hi, Isaac - thank you for leaving a 5-star review based on your fantastic experience with Vanessa! We are so happy to hear that you loved your dumpster rental experience with our team. If you need any further assistance, then please do not hesitate to reach out to Vanessa or the team and we will be more than happy to help you. - WRUSA Team