There are a great many project delivery methods. Of which, three are the most common. They are:
Design – Bid – Build
Design – Build
Integrated Project Delivery
We have learned that one-sized fits one, and that the best delivery method depends on the nature and personality of the project and client.
The following is a quick summary of what each of those project deliveries are, where each excels and who may be best suited for them.
“Design – Bid – Build” or DBB
- It is the one you are probably most familiar with. In this method, the design team and client start the project together, and establish the wants and needs of the client. The design team progresses through the stages of the project from programming and schematic design to construction documentation. During construction documentation, the design team prepares drawings and specifications which are used to establish the cost of construction and what will be constructed.
- The strength of this delivery method is that the owner has a high level of control over the quality and materials to be used.
- If a compromise needs to be made to achieve a desired budget, the decision of what to change is up to the owner.
- The contract can be awarded to the lowest bidder, the most qualified bidder, through a negotiation, or a combination of all.
- The weakness is in the cost controls and timing. The design is prepared with only a general knowledge of costs.
- Contractors in a design-bid-build relationship may look for places they can charge extra for after the contract is signed.
- Compromises to achieve the desired budget can result in additional design fees and schedule delays.
- Best Suited For
- This may be best suited for a more sophisticated client who understands costs and values.
- **TIP** -We recommend cost estimates during the design phase and a realistic and diminishing cost contingency to monitor design and budget alignment.
“Design-Build” or D/B
- The design and construction team act as one. The primary contract can be between the owner and either the designer or the contractor. As the design progresses, adjustments are made to keep the design and budget in alignment.
- Control of costs; the project will be on budget. The construction team can make changes to the materials used and the design in response to actual costs.
- The weakness is a reduced control of the overall design. Most D/B relationships include a loose description of the project.
- Cost savings and compromises are made in the quality of materials. Those adjustments may be an equal substitution, or they may affect the long-term durability or quality of components.
- It is important to have a high level of trust in the D/B team since they control the quality and cost of the project.
- Best Suited For
- This works for an owner whose highest priorities are controlling costs and gaining the desired baseline functionality.
“Integrated Project Delivery” or IPD
- This method is growing in popularity. The designer and contractor are retained by the owner at the start of the project. Each contributes to the project as it progresses in their respective areas of expertise; the architect designs and the contractor watches the cost to construct the design as the process progresses.
- At the completion of the contract documents, the general contractor can provide a fixed price on budget and quickly begin construction.
- The strengths of this process are cost controls, speed of execution, and the level of cost/benefit information available during the design phase.
- In addition, the design is prepared working to the contractor’s strength. That means that the methods and trades in which the contractor is most competitive are used when appropriate and when the opportunities present themselves. The single greatest benefit between IPD and D/B is the independence of the contractor and designer. That separation adds protection to the owner. While there may be a need to substitute materials or alter designs, the designer can reject the substitution while maintaining a cost commitment on the part of the contractor. This can also lead to shared savings between owner and contractor during the construction process.
- This relationship does not include competitive bidding. Where the parties share a mutual respect and trust for one another, that can be overcome.
- The owner sometimes decides to put the project into a competitive bidding situation which results in compensating the contractor for their design phase services. If someone other than the original contractor is selected there is a potential for all the conflicts that come with Design-Bid-Build.
- Best Suited For
- This method is most common with sophisticated projects that have very specific requirements and budgets. Most projects can benefit from this delivery type.
A conversation with your Architect regarding your aspirations, goals and budget for your project is the starting point. That conversation will bring clarity and guidance as to what the best process is to achieve your best outcome for your project.
John W. Lister, AIA, LEED AP, GGP