design-build procurement route

Design-Build Method in Construction: Advantages and Disadvantages

It is all about allocating contractual responsibility and ensuring successful and resourceful delivery of projects. Design-build is a contracting method. Construction professionals refer to the ways you use to allocate responsibility and deliver a project as “procurement routes”.

Two main types of procurement routes exist design-bid-build and design-build. However, recently, construction management has been rising in popularity as an alternative contracting method.

However, irrespective of what contracting option you choose, defects are bound to rise in design. No-one is perfect. Designers are prone to mistakes although there are certain minimum tolerable standards that must be met.

The practical law refers to them as “reasonable care and skill”. It is the yardstick to measure your contract designer’s competence against another professional designer under tort.

Therefore, your designer is liable for certain design obligations.

Hence, ensure that you and your contractor understand the design-build contract before you pick up any tool. If possible, ensure that your contract determines the degree of design responsibility.

Also, desist from drawing up general conclusions. Instead, ensure that your contract covers all the requirements of laws and has mechanisms for adjustment of the unforeseen.

Now that we have covered some disclaimers let us take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of design-build contracting.


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You can control costs of your design and build contract at least to some reasonable degree. Plus, you can agree with your contractor who will take up both the design and build responsibilities on a lump sum price.

You and your contractor have the freedom to outsource consultants to turn the key to project completion.

Furthermore, you can offer your contractor an incomplete design, which they can take up full responsibility once you award them the contract. Usually, clients leave a 30% to 50% incomplete design to their contractors.

If you and your design contractor agree on an initial design, then the total build cost would not change. However, you are likely to request your designer to make some changes during the project.

Thus, ensure your designer provides an adequate illustration on how on such revisions are going to change the total build costs.

Besides, if you have a tight schedule, then a design-build option is the best choice for you. Also, if you have a big and complicated project like the construction of roads and bridges, then it can suffice.

Moreover, it is suitable if you intend to repair and maintain structures for urgent relief from natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires and so forth.

Projects cannot only start early but the design and build works can run concurrently; hence, saving time. Besides, since your designer assumes full design responsibility, they have design liabilities.

This means that they have certain obligations they must meet under contract and tort. Thus, they can shield you from any eventuality that arises because of increasing costs of materials and labour.


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Your designer could take advantage of the pre-agreed lump sum price especially if you gave them very clear design specifications. Most designers tend to work on the minimum possible design specifications to maximise their earnings.

Expect a shoddy job if you give design responsibility to a building contractor. The lump sum can easily go down the drain because most builders may not be conversant with the intricacies of Building Regulations, including planning permission.

They are not skilful enough to draw up the necessary planning application drawings. Only architects can do this job.

It would be undesirable to undo all the construction works and to comply with an enforcement notice simply because you were not aware.

In summary, ensure that you always give design responsibility to architects, not builders. Also, if your project runs on a tight schedule and budget, then a design-build procurement route could be your saviour.

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