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What is Design-Bid-Build?

What is Design-Bid-Build? JMF Commercial Construction Blogs

Design-bid-build is the traditional project delivery method in the United States construction industry. It is the most common project delivery method and is preferred by most owners and managers. In this method, the owner or manager of the project, hires an architect(designer) and a contractor separately by contract.

During the design process, the architect or design firm is responsible for designing the entire project. In the design stage the designer will partner with owner, in designing their property to their desire. The designers create documents/drawings with specifications that the contractor will need to fulfil during the build stage. Once the designs are done, the owner/manager solicits bids from multiple contractors. 

During the bidding process, the owner/manager look to create a pool of contractors, that will submit competitive bids to be hired for the project. First, owners/managers must invite contractors to view their jobsite, where they will go over the specifications and details of the project. At this time, the owner or manager can ask the general contractor questions. If they like the contractor, they must request bids from licensed contractors. They must analyze and access the capabilities of each contractor and consider the submitted bid. Once a contractor is hired, then the construction can begin.

The contractor is responsible for meeting the specifications and building requirements of the project. Depending on the project, the contractor may have to hire subcontractors to complete specific task of the project. In addition, they must plan and coordinate the labor and materials needed for the project. While having to communicate with the owner/manager on the progress and concerns of the project.

Ultimately, the traditional building method offers owners a three-stage approach in project delivery. At the beginning the designer must create the specifications and requirements of the project, which will later be carried out by the contractor. Owners must find a reliable and quality contractor for their project. In this project method, the designer and contractor bare minimal risk, while the owner bares the most risk. However, likely any other project method, there are advantages and disadvantages to this approach.

What are the Advantages of Design-Bid-Build?

  • Good for inexperienced managers and owners in the construction process. It is easily understood.
  • Bids submitted by general contractors are more accurate since the design’s documents are completed by this stage of the process.
  • Lowest initial cost for the project.
  • Owners have more influence and control over the project.
  • The roles and responsibility are easily outlined for the designer and contractor.
  • Contractors are competitive bidding to become an active participant in the project.

Design-bid-build is a good option if you are looking for a standard step by step approach to your construction projects. This project enables owners/managers to focus on each stage of the project.

What are the Disadvantages of Design-Bid-Build?

Before, you consider the traditional method of project delivery, it is important to recognize and address the disadvantages. Below is a list of the disadvantages of Design-bid-build.

  • The owner/manager of traditional projects bare a lot of financial risk in change orders and additional costs by the contractor. These unforeseen costs can be from discrepancies and issues from the project designs and the contractor.
  • Projects can potentially be delayed, which may impact your business operations further.
  • The contractor cannot provide feedback on the design project since the design process is prior to the contractor involvement.
  • Before the construction begins, the owner/manager have already invested a significant amount of capital.
  • Traditional projects start off slower compared to alternative project delivery methods. Construction does not begin until the design plans and contractor selection are finished.
  • Less collaborative than other project delivery methods. *The contractor and designer do not work together. Instead, they are two different entities in two different stages of the project.

Owners and managers should analyze their capability of managing the design-bid-build process. In addition, they should weigh their option in the amount of risk associated with the project. They should consider the cash flow of their business as well as the impact of construction on their business. Cash flow can stop or delay a project if its not managed correctly. In addition, owners/managers should also consider how impacted their operations. They could speak with the contractor in help limiting the impact of construction with other alternatives such as phased construction and design build.

Summary of Design-Bid-Build

Many owners and managers seeking construction services prefer the design-bid-build approach due to its simplicity and ease of use. Owners contract a designer to create plans and specifications for the project. Next, they look for contractors through a bidding process. Then the hired contractor fulfils in building the project. However, owners need to weigh their options for any project they do. Therefore, it is important for them to recognize the advantages and disadvantages of this approach, as well as their resources, strengths, and capabilities to meet their responsibilities of the project.

Partner With JMF Commercial Construction

JMF Commercial Construction is an experienced licensed contractor serving commercial and light industrial businesses, and HOA Property Management. We provide convenient and quality services to the Los Angeles & Orange County businesses.

To start your next commercial construction project today! Contact JMF Commercial Construction for an Estimate.

Email us at or call us at (562)572-8354.


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