The pros and cons of design-build

 In Business

For some time, the construction industry has been moving toward design-build as a more collaborative way to deliver a project, one that allows contractors to integrate design into their practices. Advocates tout its cost and time savings, so it’s no wonder that contractors focused on traditional delivery methods like design-bid-build (DBB) might be interested in design-build.

But experts say there are major issues contractors should consider before leaping into design-build.

Understanding the risks

In the design-build delivery method, contractors become the single point of contact and responsibility for both the design and construction phases of a project, said Lisa Washington, executive director of the Design-Build Institute of America. This means that contractors whose experience has primarily been in DBB, for instance, need to have a clear understanding of the risk that goes along with that.

Design flaws and other issues related to plans and specifications, for instance, now are the contractor’s responsibility, a shift from more traditional methods where the owner and contractor expect the architect to assume liability for any design errors.

“The concept of a single point of responsibility can seem very straight forward,” said Washington, “but you have to understand what it means so that you can manage the expectations and … work with the owner to properly allocate the risks.”

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