What is a Design and Build Contractor?

In the traditional design-bid-build model used in the construction industry, the owner hires a designer on one side and a contractor on the other. Once the design phase is complete, they will invite bids from contractors for the actual construction of the final design.

Design and build is another type of contract that has become popular of late. In this type of contract, the project design and construction is undertaken by the same entity. Instead of 3 parties (owner-designer-contractor), there are only 2 entities involved.

In many cases, a design and build contractor is a general contractor who also leads the project design with a professional architect or engineer. Some design and build firms have professionals from both sides – design and construction. Other general contractors employ architects or designers to provide design services in-house, so to speak. In some cases, a design firm may partner with a construction firm for a specific project or time frame. Many such contracts allow the owner to take the design plans and go elsewhere for actual construction.

Advantages of Hiring a Design and Build Contractor

  • There are quite a few benefits in using design-build contracts for projects: The owner has to deal with only a single contract and one firm. There is no back and forth between the owner, designer, and contractor to haggle over details, costs, and schedules.
  • It saves a lot of time. The contractor doesn’t have to wait for the architect to complete the design before starting construction. For a small project, design and construction can commence at the same time. A larger project can be divided into phases with the design and construction of each phase happening simultaneously.
  • It allows the contractor and specialty subcontractors to propose better solutions to specific elements during the design stage itself. They don’t have to wait until construction begins to make changes.

That’s not to say there are no drawbacks. Sometimes, the contractor may cut corners (design-wise) to complete the project on time or within budget. They may also make design decisions in areas they have no experience with. However, the pros outweigh the cons for the most part. It’s no surprise that the number of design and build contracts has been trending upward in the last few decades. They’re used in many countries as they reduce the risks for owners and completion time of projects. If you’re starting a new construction project or remodeling an existing building, call us at 408-295-2182 for an estimate.