Design-Build (DB)

A project delivery method that combines architectural and engineering design services with construction performance under one contract.

Under this system, the owner contracts with a DB team, which can be a joint venture of a contractor and a designer, a contractor with a designer as a subconsultant, a designer-led team with a contractor as a subcontracted entity, or a single firm capable of performing both design and construction. Since contractors are most comfortable in the role of risking corporate capital in performing projects, they usually are the lead members of this sort of team.

Design/Construction Sequencing:

Fast Track-
  • Some stages of construction precede the completion of design work. For instance, civil site works might be initiated before the final architectural building plans are approved. This method is primarily used when time savings is a critical goal of the building program.


  • The Design-Build Contractor provides the Owner with a single point of accountability. The Owner need not act as adjudicator for any disputes between the Design Professional and the Contractor.
  • The lines of communication are simplified and chances for misunderstanding are reduced. Coordination between the Owner and the Contractor is improved.
  • Project design and project construction become related parts of a unified system. The construction expertise of the Contractor and the design expertise of the Design Professional are melded to produce greater value for the owner.
  • Construction of the project can be initiated on a phased basis while design is still underway. This fast tracking will reduce the Owner's interim financing costs and will permit the Owner to occupy the project at an earlier date. It can also reduce other time-dependent costs.
  • The unified Design-Build responsibility facilitates the Contractor's control of project performance. The Contractor can proceed with early procurement of critical materials, schedule labor and subcontractors for greater effectiveness, and maintain the desired project quality at all levels.


  • In other forms of contracting there is a check and balance system between the architect/engineer and the contractor. Under the Design-Build contract method, the contractor is responsible for both design and construction which may reduce the check and balance between architect and contractor.
  • Less control by the owner over the final design and details.

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