In essence, the design-build process replaces traditional methods of building constructions. Traditional processes include separate contracts for building design and construction. In a design-build method, the architects, designers, and contractors work together as one team. Rather than constantly placing blame and pointing fingers, team members work together, collaborate, and communicate to solve any problems that may occur.
Traditional Construction Vs. Design-Build Construction
One of the most used traditional processes is design-bid-build construction. It includes the owner working together with the design engineer and their team to develop the design-build process’s program, strategy, and scope. They plan everything before the project, and then the contractor and subcontractors work with material suppliers to build the design previously specified.
The entire approach is set before the building process begins. Then, when things need adjustments, the contractor and all the sub-teams need to decide how to deal with them according to a given timeline, available materials, and budget. Even when the contractors do their best, they fail to develop the most effective solution for every issue. Because there isn’t much communication between teams, every team has its own ways of dealing with things.
The main problem with the traditional ways of doing construction is that everyone works as a separate entity. The plumbers have no idea what the electricians are doing, and none know what the welders are working on. To make things worse, none of them knows the details about the changes the other team is making, and when things go wrong, they blame each other.
How Is Design-Build Different From Traditional Methods?
As a complete opposite from the traditional approach, design-build is a method that includes signing a single contract with one entity that provides design and construction services. According to the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), it’s also known as single-source responsibility or design/construct. It means dealing with one entity throughout the entire building process.
With this method, the new construction owner deals with a single point of responsibility. From the beginning to the end, the designer and contractors work together as a team. It helps them provide unified project solutions to the owner that better fit their schedule and budget. If any changes are needed, the entire team addresses them, which leads to collaborative brainstorming and problem-solving. When everyone works together, there are no excuses or blame-shifting.
Single-source contracting is the essence of design-build and a crucial differentiating point from traditional models. However, the collaboration culture in the new model is equally important. It’s a culture of transparency that helps avoid mistake-making, clears misunderstandings, and holds everyone accountable for their actions. It ensures everyone is always on the same page, and it allows the entire team to be heard and get all the building material and equipment they need to finish their tasks on time. Through design-build, the building professionals are enabled to provide the best possible results for any project.
The 5 Phases of the Design-Build Process
The innovative process includes five essential phases. While it may sound like a lot for a model that’s a simplified version from what we’re used to, the phrases often overlap. Traditional methods mostly consist of a few steps provided by different entities – but they never work together. Instead, each professional needs to wait for the previous team to finish their tasks before starting their own.
Design-build is more fluid, allowing everyone to work simultaneously and eventually takes less time than traditional models.
The basic phases include the following:
Choosing the design-build team is the first step every owner takes. They vet potential candidates and choose an architect-constructor team with the most experience building the constructions they need to build. It’s also important for the team to fully understand its vision, budget, and needs.
Pre-construction is a short but very important phase. It’s critical to pay attention to detail during this phase because it’s when the design team learns everything about the owner’s needs, budget, goals, and challenges. It’s the perfect time for each team member to ask as many questions as they need to deliver optimal results.
Once the team defines the timeline, budget, and other critical project parameters, it’s time for the architectural phase to begin. This is a point where some strategy work may already be in progress during the pre-construction phase. During this phase, the design team explores cost savings and productivity optimization.
The design team often starts the construction phase simultaneously with the design phase, but if it didn’t, it would start right after it. Therefore, overlapping between these two phases is frequent, and it helps speed up the project.
After the project is completed, the team provides the owner with an overview of all project deliverables and helpful materials (documented procedures, instructional videos, or in-person training). In addition, the post-construction process is much more streamlined since the entire team has worked on the project simultaneously.