If you’re ready to start your commercial construction project you may be wondering where to begin. Do you start with an architect? A contractor? The answer to that will depend on which project delivery method you choose.

The two most common project delivery methods for commercial construction are Design Bid Build and Design Build.


Design Bid Build

Design Bid Build is considered the more traditional method of designing, bidding, and building commercial projects. As the name implies, Design Bid Build involves a competitive bidding process. 

The customer first works with an architect or engineer to design plans for the project. Those plans are then submitted to multiple contractors for competitive bidding. The customer compares those bids to decide which contractor to hire to complete the project.

The customer will have two separate contracts; one for the design of the project and one for the construction of the project. 


Design Build  

In Design Build, the customer will have one contract with a single entity, typically a Design Build contractor, for the entire project. 

The Design Build contractor will work directly with the customer to determine his or her project needs and budget requirements. The Design Build contractor will then design the project, price it, permit it, and build it. 


3 Reasons why you might choose Design Bid Build:


1. Your priority is low costs.

Design Bid Build includes bids from multiple contractors. Often, a customer’s goal in obtaining competitive bids is to secure the lowest possible price for its construction project.

In Design Bid Build, the customer will have the opportunity to compare multiple bids and ultimately choose the one offering the lowest costs.

For example:

Most government contracts use Design Bid Build because their goal is minimizing costs. They will take their plans to several contractors and, typically, will hire the contractor that comes in at the lowest price.

2. Y
ou have existing plans.

Design Bid Build works well for businesses that have designs and plans already in place. They already know exactly what they want and need because they do the same projects over and over. 

For example:

Businesses such as chain restaurants, gas stations, and retail stores that have multiple locations regionally or nationally often prefer the Design Bid Build method for their projects because they use the same plans for all of their buildings. When they need to build in a new location they take those existing plans to contractors in that area for bids and then choose their contractor based on those bids.

3. You don’t know a contractor.

If you are entirely new to construction and do not know any reputable contractors or have any quality referrals, the Design Bid Build option may be your best place to start. It will allow you to feel out several contractors for your project without an immediate commitment.


3 Reasons why you might choose Design Build:


1. You want to save time and hassle by working with a single point of contact.

Typically, Design Build is a more personalized, streamlined approach because you will work with just your Design Build contractor from start to finish. 

This means you have a single contract and only one point of contact throughout the entire process. (Unlike in Design Bid Build, where the customer will have multiple contracts and multiple points of contact, including the architect, engineers, contractors in the bidding stage, and the hired contractor.) 

The single point of contact in Design Build can prove to be very beneficial during certain situations that will arise during the project. 

For example:

Every project will have changes along the way and with a Design Build contractor those changes are easier to address because you’ve been with your contractor since day one. He knows your wants, needs, and expectations from the start and the Design Build contractor has a clear understanding of your overall project, which makes it easier for him to accommodate changes. 

As opposed to Design Bid Build where you may find you have to go back and forth between your architect and contractor for any changes that come up. 

This can lead to communication issues and leave your project vulnerable to mistakes and delays because of misunderstandings, lack of clarity, and difficulty in translating the design into physical construction.

2. You prioritize quality and fair, accurate pricing over cheapest costs.

While you do miss out on competitive bidding when going the Design Build route, that does not necessarily mean you will pay higher costs.

Competitive bid projects can lead to confusion in pricing because not all bids are calculated the same way. Quality and prices will vary by bid because the construction plans only offer so much information. Each contractor will make his or her own assumptions and calculations.

With Design Build, by working with your contractor from the beginning he will have all the necessary details from you when choosing materials and calculating costs.

For Example:

Your project needs windows but the type hasn’t been specified. The bidding contractors have to guess what kind of windows you will use. 

One may assume high quality windows, which makes the bid higher. Another may assume lower end windows, which will make his bid lower. But you may not know the reason for the differing prices, you just see one bid is lower and one is higher. Your actual costs will depend on the windows you choose.

In Design Build, your contractor will know what windows you want in advance of the price estimate which will allow him to price them accurately. 

3. You know a contractor you can trust. 

If you have an existing relationship with a contractor you know and trust, or if you have a quality referral for a trustworthy and skilled contractor, then Design Build is an excellent option.

(Beware. Because there is no competitive bidding in Design Build, an unscrupulous contractor could take advantage of the situation and overcharge. Before you hire a new contractor be sure to do your research and ask for references.)

According to Marty Kirchner, of Kirchner Custom Builders, “The most important thing when choosing the Design Build method is hiring a contractor you trust.”

An experienced, skilled, and honest Design Build contractor should provide high quality work and materials at fair prices.


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