What is Design-Build?
Design-Build is a method of project-delivery that is rapidly growing in popularity as more and more business owners are choosing it over other systems.
In traditional methods, an owner enters into two separate contracts – one with the designer/engineer, and one with the General Contractor. In Design-Build, on the other hand, the owner enters into a single contract for both design and construction services. This distinguishes the Design-Build method from all other project-delivery systems.
A single contract means that the designer and builder – once separate entities and often at odds with one another – are now integrated into one entity that is responsible for the successful planning, coordinating, and carrying out of a project, and are unified from the project’s conception to its completion. The owner is no longer required to manage multiple contracts, or to potentially play the mediator between the design and construction entities.
While having only one contract is the fundamental distinction of Design-Build, there is also a crucial difference in mindset: rather than a designer/contractor relationship with little communication or cooperation (which can often lead to tension and blame-shifting), a successful Design-Build contract provides a unified, collaborative atmosphere that is grounded in mutual trust and respect for the other parties involved. This collaboration encourages an attitude of teamwork and collective problem-solving to optimize a project’s success and is why Design-Build is becoming increasingly popular in the world of construction and engineering.
Benefits of the Design-Build Method
Design-Build holds many advantages over traditional methods – for owner, designer, and contractor:
Reduced Risk – Because of the single-entity structure of a Design-Build contract, there is a clear designation of responsibility up front. The owner no longer risks being caught in a liability gap between the designer and contractor when a problem arises, because the problem is collectively solved by the design-build team.
Innovation – Open communication is one of the central ideas behind the Design-Build method. Having the input of the owner, designer, and contractor throughout the planning and execution of a project gives the team the ability to come up with innovative solutions to ensure that the best decisions are made for the project’s needs. This leads to fewer change orders, disputes, unexpected costs, and schedule delays, all of which are common in other project-delivery systems.
Decreased Cost – Design-Build is statistically proven to out-perform other methods when it comes to both unit cost and cost growth. The collaboration creates opportunities for greater cost efficiencies and fewer surprises, which in the end, results in a better value for the owner and for the design/construction entity.
Faster Delivery Speed – By involving both the designer and contractor in the initial setting of a project’s goals, the Design-Build method allows for clear expectations from the outset and for greater effectiveness in fast-tracking a project. Overlapping the design and construction phases enables the team to achieve a smoother, more efficient, and ultimately more satisfactory execution of the project.
How it works
Here at Access Electric, we work closely with General Contractors as well as directly with business owners in the Design-Build process. This process begins with collaborative discussions that include all of the parties involved in order to determine the exact needs, performance requirements, and goals of the project before anything is ever designed.
Next, the original project design is created. This is then refined, modified, and modified again as necessary at weekly or monthly design meetings, based on the owner’s input or as new needs arise during the project’s development.
When all parties are satisfied with the resulting design, the design drawings are then produced. These drawings can be used for obtaining permits as well as for jobsite construction.
It is our belief that communication and collaboration are the foundation of any successful design-build project. For this reason, any and all changes that are made to a design will be discussed throughout the project with everyone involved.
Once the job is completed, if there have been any changes or alterations to the design, the “Drawings of Record” are produced. These are then provided to the owner as a complete record of what was done on the job. This includes all changes that were made to the design throughout the design process.
We believe that the Design-Build method gives us the best opportunity to collaborate with owners and contractors in a close, integrated relationship; and that as a result, we are able to better fulfill our customers’ needs by providing a superior final product.