Pros and Cons of Design Build

Using a design-build contract for commercial electrical design means clearer contract responsibilities, more innovation, faster project execution and completion, and potential cost savings. Cons of the design-build model include less contract flexibility and fewer opportunities for competition.

Do you need a commercial electrical design near Modesto or Stockton, California? Are you trying to find a designer and a builder? What if you could find a contractor who could both design and build your project?

Keep reading to find out why you should consider partnering with a design-build contractor for your next commercial project in California.

In this blog post, Access Electric will explain the pros and cons of using a design-build project model where the designer and builder are the same contractor. We’ll also briefly explain the alternative project models and how to find a contractor.

Advantages of Using Design-Build

Design-build means that a single contractor designs, engineers, and builds your commercial electrical project. Using a design-build contractor has advantages: a straightforward contract with clear responsibilities, innovation, cost savings, and faster project execution and completion.

We will explain each pro of using the design-build model in greater detail.

Design-Build Means Clearer Responsibilities

Design-build contracts are straightforward because the contractor is responsible for both the design and construction of the project. Traditional project contracts, where the design is handled by one contractor and the construction by another, have gaps in responsibilities.

In traditional projects like design-bid-build, owners find themselves in the middle of a problem where the designer and the builder disagree about fault or responsibility.

Design-Build Facilitates Innovation

Design-build means the engineer designing the project and the builders are all on the same team. This streamlined communication facilitates innovation and problem-solving to deliver the best finished product to the owner.

Cost Savings from Design-Build Model

The design-build model reduces change orders and eliminates or reduces communication delays. There are fewer surprises and more opportunities for maximum efficiency without sacrificing quality. This means that the owner gets a better value on the finished project.

Faster Project Execution with Design-Build Model

The engineer and builder work with the same contractor in the design-build model. This means efficient communication and fewer delays. Projects can get started faster and be completed faster than other commercial project models.

Drawbacks of Design-Build

The potential cons of the design-build model include less contract flexibility and less competition. For these reasons, many commercial clients opt to stay with traditional contract methods like design-bid-build (DBB).

Let’s discuss these drawbacks to design-build with a little more detail.

Less Contract Flexibility with Design-Build

In a design-build contract, your contractor supplies both the engineering and building. This contractor has more input and control over the outcome of the project than when these two roles are separate. Some owners may be uncomfortable with the contract rigidity of the design-build model.

While the reduction in contract flexibility presents a potential drawback, it also offers an advantage to design-build contracts. There are fewer responsibility gaps in a design-build contract, so the owner is less likely to get stuck with a designer and builder in disagreement.

Less Competition in the Design-Build Model

Design-build contracts have fewer opportunities for competition because a single entity is doing all of the work. Reducing competition in a project has the potential to increase costs, but a superior product and fewer delays in design-build are also cost-savers.

Traditional competition models, where bidders offer you the lowest price but only have partial responsibility for the finished project, may lead to cut corners and a lower quality product. In design-build, a single contractor has full responsibility for the finished product.

Design-build gives owners a greater value for the money spent in addition to having cost-saving benefits, so don’t be worried about the reduced competition between the design and build phases.

Alternatives to Design-Build Model

Projects traditionally use a design-bid-build (DBB) model instead of a design-build model. In DBB, an engineer delivers a design to the owner, who then presents the design to builders to receive bids. The owner selects the lowest bidder to build the design. Other alternatives are variations of DBB.

One popular alternative of DBB is Construction Manager at-Risk (CMAR) where a construction manager is hired to complete the DBB process.

For large projects, it is not uncommon for multiple builders to be selected in a Multiple Award Contract (MAC). Each builder has a specific construction responsibility toward the completion of the whole project.

Keep in mind that the more builders are involved, the more potential there is for gaps in responsibilities or disagreements about who is at fault for errors.

With design-build, the contractor may hire subcontractors to complete portions of the project. However, because a single entity has responsibility for the entire project, the contractor in the design-build model is responsible for delivering a satisfactory project completion.

Finding a Design-Build Contractor 

Not every contractor offers design-build contracts, so you need to ask any potential contractors if they offer design-build agreements. If you are in San Joaquin or Stanislaus counties in California, contact Access Electric online or at (209)-577-1491 for assistance with your commercial electric project.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who carries the most risk in design-build contracts?

The designer-builder contractor is responsible for delivering a satisfactory design and project completion, so even if subcontractors are hired, the design-builder still shoulders the responsibility and risk in the project.

When should I use design-build?

Design-build contracts are best for times where you want a streamlined project completion. To see if design-build is a good fit for your project, meet with design-build contractors for more information.

Is Design-Build or Design-Bid-Build cheaper?

Design-build is more cost efficient than design-bid-build. Design-build contracts assign responsibility and communication to a single entity which reduces delays and change orders. Fees are handled under one contract, often lowering the total cost of the project.