Improve speed, reduce cost and risk: the benefits of the design-build process
Casey Shockey, P.E., Chief Engineering PLLC
Working for years as an engineer in the traditional design-bid-build process taught me a valuable lesson: bringing contractors and the construction team in after the design is finished could be very costly to my clients. Over time, I learned to bring more people into the beginning of the process – the clients and contractors from the fabrication and installation side were now able to add valuable input into the design. I soon realized that I was moving away from traditional design processes and toward the design-build methodology, which benefits both the client and the team responsible for design and construction.
From reduced project duration and cost to better results, here are some of the biggest pros I’ve found by moving to the design-build method of working:
It’s much faster than traditional construction methods.
Design-build projects, on average, are delivered 33 percent faster with 12 percent quicker construction speed than traditional design-bid-build methods. Overlapping project phases shorten a project’s speed to market and enable collaboration among all of the project’s key players, especially between engineers and the construction team. Because the designers and the builders are working as a team from the beginning, any changes in the scope of the project have a much smaller impact to the overall timeline and budget compared to the three separate phases in the design-bid-build process.
Design-build saves money (and headaches).
When project stakeholders follow the design-bid-build process, the initial price estimate and the final project price might substantially differ to the detriment of the client. In this traditional method, the construction pricing doesn’t occur until the design work is 100% complete, leaving time for an increase in interest rates and material costs. In short, there’s rarely a reliable maximum price for the client. This risk is greatly mitigated for companies that choose the design-build methodology because the construction planning and pricing happens simultaneously with the design work. Cost escalation becomes less of a problem for the client, budgets become more certain, and predicting an accurate maximum price for the entire project is easier for the design-build team. And, the client has a single contract to manage for true turnkey project execution.
It generates high quality, innovative solutions.
The quality of work can drastically increase when a client, engineers, contractors, and construction crews work as a unified team. The team works together during the design phase, ensuring construction is considered before the plans are finalized. The collaboration in this process powers innovation – now, because multiple teams are participating in the design phase, solutions can be more customized to the client’s needs. The construction team better understands requirements within the design, resulting in a high quality product that better meets the client’s expectations.
At Chief Engineering, our team is constantly looking for ways to deliver high quality products to our customers, and the design-build process has enabled us to provide turnkey services to consistently meet or exceed expectations. We’re also looking beyond the construction phase to protect the client’s system, providing maintenance and reliability solutions to help reduce unscheduled system downtime. Learn more about the design-build methodology from the Design Build Institute of America’s Design Build Done Right Primer.
 Design-Build Institute of America: https://dbia.org/what-is-design-build/