Design-bid-build (DBB) is a traditional construction project delivery method that involves the completion of three distinct phases in sequence. Construction does not begin until the design process is complete (and a bid accepted), so there is no overlap between design and construction. The DBB method consists of three phases: 1) the Design phase, 2) the Bid phase, and 3) the Build phase. While the previous point seems obvious, it helps clarify the process.
Design-Bid-Build is a good option for new commercial construction where the owner of the project needs both professional design and construction services while also needing to closely monitor the project, and account for its budget. It’s also a good fit for projects that are required to procure professional design services by qualifications-based selection (QBS) regulations and constructors by competitive bidding.
Firmly established in construction, and the go-to approach in the industry for decades, if not centuries, DBB, also known as design-tender,, is clearly defined. Its advantages and disadvantages are also well understood. The DBB method insists on transparency of costs upfront. –which is not to say that ballooning change orders will not add to the bottom line later–and has made it a favorite in public contracts that are subject to rigorous oversight.
The construction industry too has dozens upon dozens of subspecialties, each of whom like to stay in their lane, a process that DBB accommodates. The traditional DBB method has worked well for years but is seeing competition from a more nimble approach, the design-build project delivery method. Design-build compresses the project lifecycle and time by encouraging overlap between the design and construction phases: construction can begin even when the design team is ironing out certain aspects of the design. Despite design-build’s growing popularity, the traditional design-bid-build approach continues to occupy key segments of the construction industry.
The Design/Build method reduces the lengthy timeline that often accompanies Design/Bid/Build. As the Designer/Builder, we serve as the owner’s single contact for the entirety of the project; this allows for efficient communication and means that we are singularly accountable for the project’s outcome.
Bid (or tender)
General contractors bid on the design documents after consulting with subcontractors for various aspects of the construction process, including HVAC installation, landscaping, insulation, and more. The final bid typically outlines the cost of materials and labor. The scope for work might be refined during the bidding process. During this stage, the roles of the various entities involved are also well laid out. Once all bids come in by the specified date, the owner may decide to scrap or modify the project or proceed with a specific general contractor.
The general contractor begins and completes the construction of the project while supervising and getting work done from a series of subcontractors. Work often executes in a specific sequence. The general contractor signs on to a specific scope of work and design cannot be altered at this late stage.
Design bid build by SavCon
This delivery method involves the least collaboration between the A/E designers and the professional construction managers. The A/E team is hired by the client first and the design is completed without benefit of preconstruction services and collaboration between the A/E and construction management team members. Once the design is done, contractors and builders are invited to bid on the project based on complete construction documents.
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