Design/Build

Design/Build

The design/build approach has been touted as the contracting method of choice for the future. eliminating construction disputes and hastening the design and construction process.  This approach gives broad responsibility to the single firm entertaining in the design/build contract with the owner so that liability associated with issues is absolute.  This method resurrects the principle of the "master builder".  As this method evolves, much of the uncertainty and confusion associated with this method will be lessened, however, the industry transformation from more traditional and departmentalized methods to that of single entity responsibility remains mixed.  Often, the design/build entities relay on that same traditional approaches as before, such as negotiated contracts with designers and subcontractors, or lump sum competitive bidding, behind and within the design/build entity.  In doing this, the design/builder relies on their industry expertise with the particular type of project, using the control of the design to influence final costs.

Major Advantages

  1. Responsibility associates with design and construction according to building codes, structural integrity, life safety, and specific defined design criteria remain absolute, in the eyes of the building owner.  
  2. The owner can usually have a final price established earlier in the development process. 
  3. The owner has little administrative functions during the construction process, as these have been delegated to the design/builder.  (This can be regarded as both an advantage and as a disadvantage)
  4. Costs for the entire project can be addressed by fixed price, lump sum, guaranteed maximum costs, or cost plus a fixed or variable fee, depending on the nature of the project and the relationship with the design/build entity.  
  5. Given an open and communicative environment between the owner and design/builder, the efforts of the owner can be focused primarily on the end product and not on the process itself.  

Major Disadvantages

  1. The owner looses control of much of the design, except for those issues, which have been meticulously defined in the building criteria.  At times, the aesthetic, performance, reliability and building system components cannot be adequately defined to the satisfaction of the end user.  
  2. Depending on the method of reimbursement of costs, the avoidance of the liability and responsibility for issues may not justify the loss of control of the design process. 
  3. The owner looses much of the series of checks and balances that exist within the traditional contracting methods. 
  4. The higher risks associated with the design/build method will necessitate higher fees for the design/builder than the traditional methods with compartmentalized risks.
  5. A lump sum cost approach to this method will cause the design/builder to include broad budgets for items of uncertainty to ensure that the construction budgets are adequate.  
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