Design-Build VS. Design-Bid-Build

“You have the assurance that the cost you have at the start of construction will be the same at the end.”

“FINFROCK’s unique design-build model delivered our project on time and on budget; it couldn’t have gone any smoother.” — Albert S. Livingston Director of Asset Management TerraCap Management Corp

Design-bid-build (DBB), the traditional approach for construction projects, consists of the appointment of a designer under one contract, and the appointment of a general contractor under another contract. An alternative method, construction manager at risk (CMR), incorporates some of design-build’s collaboration emphasis but keeps the responsibilities of the architect and contractor distinctly separate. This leaves the owner as the go-between for these two parties – costing them time and money. The design-build procurement route changes the traditional sequence of work. In contrast to design-bid-build and construction manager at risk, design-build relies on a single point of responsibility contract that allows the owner many benefits. Design-build is quickly growing in popularity in the United States as the preferred project delivery method in construction. In fact, according to Fails Management Institute (FMI), design-build is quickly gaining traction and will represent nearly half of construction put-in-place spending by 2021. The benefits of design-build are faster construction and delivery, less cost and schedule growth, and being less litigious than design-bid-build or construction manager at risk. Moreover, the Design-Build Institute of America’s (DBIA) research shows that design-build is the best performing project delivery method for both schedule and cost over every other. With such compelling evidence to use design-build, what myths are keeping “the other half” rooted in less beneficial delivery methods? It’s the belief that:

  • MYTH 1. The best price is dependent on bidding
  • MYTH 2. They will lose control of the design
  • MYTH 3. It’s too risky to try something new
  • MYTH 4. Design-Build does not provide value

So, is there a way to get the best price, maintain control over design, be sure you reduce risk, all while obtaining exceptional value? Are there other benefits you should expect your design-builder to deliver? There are. Read on while FINFROCK debunks the myths and shows you how to achieve more than the predictable benefits.

MYTH 1: The Best Price is Dependent on Bidding

Many owners accept not knowing the cost of their building project until after their project is designed, or even completed, as simply a necessary evil. Moreover, building costs aren’t just the material and labor costs, either. Project delays, change orders, inefficiencies, and errors all add to the bottom line, eroding developer or owner profit. While bidding may be the best way to get the lowest price for any particular design, how do you know you are bidding the best design or greatest value? Because we are a single team, working under a single contract, we are incentivized to work in the best interest of the project. If we know that spending $10,000 additional in design saves $100,000 in the field, we will make that call in house to the benefit of the project, not individual service providers. When design and construction contracts are issued separately, individual players lack that incentive. At FINFROCK, we price as we design, giving owners real-time economic input to make value-based decisions during the design, not after bidding or during construction. With design-bid-build, you pay for a full set of construction documents to learn if pro forma numbers work. If not, your design must be “value engineered,” which lacks value and lengthens the design time, effectively raising pursuit costs. Additionally, pursuit costs can have a drastic impact on a project’s return on investment. Worse yet, there is the risk if the project fails to move forward, of a negative return on investment. The best scenario is to make the go/no go decision as early and as inexpensively as possible. Because FINFROCK has in-house experience and cost knowledge in delivering your type of project, we help in that decision-making process. The result is the best design for the best price.

MYTH 2: Losing Control of the Design

Our vertically integrated approach puts the disciplines necessary to deliver your building under one roof. By working with FINFROCK, owners have a single point of contact, making it simple to coordinate and convey concerns as they arise. Being committed to process optimization, we bring major subcontractors to the table early to assist with system design and equipment choices, expanding your ability to control design and obtain your desired outcome – the aesthetics and functionality you desire within the budget you require. Since our design-build team works together on every project we provide, they possess higher team collaboration than teams that come together for just a single project. Our internal feedback loop, where we analyze every project to improve delivery and client satisfaction on future projects, heightens our team chemistry. As a technology-enabled design-builder, we provide a 3D walkthrough early in the process, giving you a clear picture of your result and the ability to make changes during the design phase affordably, rather than onsite. This use of Building Information Technology (BIM) optimizes design, improves functionality, and mitigates constructability challenges.

MYTH 3: It’s Too Risky to Try Something New

Our single point of contact, single point of accountability, and team experience reduces your risk. Our process, coupled with control of the professional services and the structural subcontractor, reduces your risk of litigation and keeps you from being the go-between for separately contracted services. Our highly customizable DualDeck® Building System – where much of the construction takes place offsite, in a controlled environment – gives us the ability to reduce onsite construction time and guarantee project completion. You pay less interest with faster onsite construction, and it lends itself to helping you open your building before the risk of adverse changes in market conditions occur. FINFROCK buildings continue to reduce your risk long after our contractual relationship ends. We strive to help you make choices that reduce costs for as long as you own the asset. Choices for the structural system, such as concrete over wood, reduce insurance, maintenance and life cycle costs. That same choice can improve the quality and livability of the building, making it more sought after for renters or future buyers.

MYTH 4: Design-Build Does Not Provide Value

The very nature of FINFROCK’s vertical integration and project delivery method dictates that we work with you to quickly determine if we can provide value to you and your project. Since we do not provide design and construction as separate services, it is not beneficial to design buildings that no one builds. In that regard, we are like-minded with owners and developers – the only reason to design a project is to build it and have it provide the intended return on investment. We are committed to letting you know early if your project can be brought to fruition under a design-build contract.