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Understanding Design-Build

by Jerry Rolfson, Sr. Architect / Design-Build Group Leader
June 23, 2015

Are you considering a building project?  If so, you may have heard of design-build project delivery.  Unlike the traditional, low bid design-bid-build method, design-build is where the designer and builder are unified as a single contractual entity to the owner.

According to the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), design-build construction now accounts for approximately 40% of all non-residential construction.  The growing popularity of design-build is understandable, as it alleviates owner risk throughout the project.  Every construction project carries a certain amount of owner risk, but by unifying the designer and the builder into a single contract, a significant portion of the risk is shifted from the owner to the builder.

One aspect of project risk directly relates to the work of the designers.  During a design-bid-build project, there may be errors and omissions in documents prepared by the design team that commonly result in change orders for the owner. With design-build, these change orders are virtually eliminated because the designer is contracted with the builder, not the owner. The project risk is even mitigated for the builder, as the designer and builder are actively collaborating to minimize errors and omissions and to provide the most effective solutions.  This collaboration ultimately translates into a higher quality project for the owner. 

If reduced risk and higher quality in construction projects are important to you, then the design-build process might be right for you.  The DBIA has a vast collection of design-build tools and educational resources. To learn more about the basics of the design-build method of project delivery, refer to the DBIA’s informational primer “What is Design-Build” found below.

About the Author


Photo of Jerry Rolfson, Integrated Project Leader

Jerry Rolfson joined Performance Services in 2010, bringing a wealth of experience serving as an architect in planning, design, and project administration of educational facilities. Jerry enjoys developing practical solutions to problems, team collaboration, and helping to create high quality learning environments for children and teachers. 

Jerry Rolfson, RA, DBIA, LEED AP

Integrated Project Leader

What is Design-Build?

A Design-Build Done Right Primer


By Project Delivery, we mean a comprehensive process including planning, design, and construction required to execute and complete a building facility or other type of project.

Within the construction industry, there are a number of project delivery systems that owners may choose to complete their project. Design-build is one of those choices. 

Over the past few decades, use of design-build in both private and public sectors has greatly accelerated in the United States, making design-build one of the most significant trends in design and construction today.



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