Design/Build: The Better System

Design/Build: What it is and how it works

Design/Build (D/B) is one way of constructing a project. As such, it differs from Design/Bid/Build (D/B/B).

In D/B, both the design and the building of a structure/s are the responsibility of one professional or one company. That professional may be a general contractor, an architect or an engineer.

In any case, s/he manages every aspect of a project’s design and construction. This creates a team approach. The designer and the builder work together to optimize each step. Since both share the responsibility, they usually work better together. In general, the project moves faster and is less complicated because of better communication.

By using D/B, an owner can retain more control, minimize the risk of something going wrong and shorten the construction time, since the design phase and construction phase may overlap. The owner also has the option of making changes that are only seen as the project progresses. This can save much time and trouble.

D/B eliminates many headaches. Example: A project can be bid D/B and started months earlier. Once the preliminary designs are decided, details can be worked out after the project gets started.

Monolithic favors the D/B system – for several reasons. While we can work with virtually any design firm, D/B gives us a say. This is tremendously important for items such as the heating and cooling system. Simply put, we have the experience that many designers do not have.

D/B versus D/B/B

Generally, D/B combines the design, permit and construction schedules and streamlines the traditional Design/Bid/Build (D/B/B) process. This does not shorten the time it takes to complete the working drawings and specifications, to acquire permits or to construct the building. Instead, the D/B firm brings professionals together so that tasks overlap and construction can actually begin while the building is still being designed.

The D/B/B system often has the designer fighting the builder. Their views of the project do not coincide. The designer has some special things in mind that the builder does not agree with but has to put out for bid and get as cheaply as possible. That leads to disagreements and delays, sometimes costly ones.

It also means that the design must be completed before the builder can start. In many projects this adds years to the construction.


The governing principles of today’s D/B date back to the pyramids and the Master Builder System in which the master builder was solely responsible for a project, from beginning to completion. The Master Builder designed the facility and then hired the workers to build it.

By the time America was into the building business, the Master Builder System was slowly getting divided into designers/architects and constructors. This separation occurred for many reasons and was considered a better way of purchasing buildings.

In reality, D/B/B has served us very well for a few centuries, but we now should return to the Master Builder System or what we call D/B. Our federal government is using D/B here in America, and Europe has almost completely shifted to Design/Build.

We can help!

Please feel free to contact us and we will help you set up a system to do your buildings. Besides D/B and D/B/B there are other systems, such as Construction Management. We are knowledgeable in all of them and we can help you select the best, most economical and least worrisome system for your project.

Please contact us at [email protected] or 972-483-7423.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Design Build