Differences Between Design-Build and Design-Bid-Build

The number of different project delivery methods available to construction owners and developers has increased in recent years, as firms are innovating new ideas to complete projects efficiently. There is still plenty of room for the traditional methods, though. Two of those tried-and-true delivery methods are design-build and design-bid-build, which we will cover in this blog. 


In this system, the owner will enter into one contract with one other party that will handle the design and construction of a structure. General contractors often fulfill the role of a design-builder, but professional design firms can also act as the design-builder. Many of the earliest large-scale construction projects were completed using the design-build method.


The design-bid-build method delineates two distinct phases for the owner or developer. The first phase consists of shopping around for an architect to draw up plans for the structure and specifications. A rough cost estimate and timeline for completion is usually something the designer will also provide. After the drawings are completed, then construction bids are solicited and reviewed before accepting one – usually the cheapest proposal.

Tradeoffs Between the Two Methods

Segregating the design and construction phases of a construction project often result in a lower overall cost for those who choose the design-bid-build system. One advantage of the design-build method for owners and developers is that they only have to worry about one contract and one point of responsibility. The design-build method also shortens the timeline for completing a construction project, as the design and construction phases will occur somewhat simultaneously and the communication is optimal between the two factions. Another benefit of the design-build method is that it is shown to decrease the likelihood of litigation arising from the project. 

There are drawbacks with both project delivery methods, as well. A potential pitfall of the design-bid-build method is a conflict arising between the design and the construction. The contractor is motivated by making a profit on the project, which can put it at odds with the designer’s vision. 


Selecting the right project delivery method is a crucial ingredient for a successful construction endeavor that satisfies all parties involved. Things to consider when choosing a delivery method include the budget, time constraints, function of the structure, and other factors. As more delivery methods are introduced and existing ones are refined, it can be harder than ever to choose the right one. Our team at DDA Engineers has experience in many different project delivery systems and can help you complete your project with efficiency and professionalism. Interested? Reach out to us today. 

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