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Design Build: Design Build Contracts

Benefits, Drawbacks and Limitations of a Design Build Contract.


Design Build: Design Build Contracts

Design- build contracts are another excellent contracting method widely used around the world. As the name implies, a design-build contract is used when both activities undergo simultaneous actions and are implemented throughout the contract length. Many Owner’s tend to select other contracting methods instead a design-build contract because might present some challenges and situations where the final cost could not be easily determined or projected.

Primarily, Design-Build is used when there is opportunities for the owner or agency to save time by having construction begin before the final design has been completed. The traditional system of Design-Bid-Build has been used for many years. It is based on the assumption that the owner can have the design plans before bidding out the construction on a project to the lowest bidder. Many projects could be more cost-effective if they could be implemented faster, thus the evolution of Design-Build.

Design Build: Design Build Characteristics

Design build contracts are usually performed by the contractor, who is in charge of the design and is also responsible to build the project. Typically the owner prepares a request for qualification where sources are analyzed under fair competition based in certain criteria and weighed factors. A Design build contract is usually the preferred contracting method under tight schedule circumstances, and it is intended to save time.

Using a design build contract designers and builders work hand-in-hand to produce construction drawings and a construction logical sequence is also analyzed. This type of contracting method is preferred by federal agencies due to the ability of producing fast track schedules and the final project can be obtained faster, and the return of investment is capitalized sooner. The design process is schedule in phases, just as the builder is ready to start that particular phase.

Design Build: Design Build Advantages

Design build contracting offers the following advantages:

  • Design Time is reduced
  • Construction Drawings are simplified
  • Reduces construction calendar
  • Change Orders are minimal.
  • Fast Track Schedule
  • The Project could be customized to actual site conditions easily
  • It allows for the project to be repeated

Design Build: Design Build Drawbacks

Design build contracts can also produce some drawbacks that should be considered before using this type of contracting method.

  • The project outcome might not produce the expected result.
  • A project that is not scheduled properly might be substantially delayed.
  • Design build contract has no impact on labor costs.
  • Final cost can be reasonably higher than original estimates.
  • Eliminates the possibility of using an integrated design.
  • The counterweight between a contractor and the design team might be reduced, and some conflicts might appear.
  • The architect’s vision could appear to favor the contractor.
  • If the project’s inspector is not an experienced team, problems should become frequent and costly repairs will be needed.

Design Build: Variations to the Design-Build Concept

The following are variations from a design build contract:

  1. Bridging: the owner develops preliminary project design to the 30-50% level.
  2. Turnkey: when the owner requires outside expertise and then allows the entity to turn over the keys at project completion.
  3. Design-Build-Warranty (D-B-W): combines a warranty provision with Design-Build.
  4. Design-Build-Maintain (D-B-M): combines maintenance provisions with Design-Build.
  5. Privatization: when a private entity designs, builds, and maintains a section of roadway in turn for a toll or fee.

Design Build: Insurance Problems

Issues relating to insurance and bonding affect the relationship between the design build parties. Design professionals’ errors and omissions insurance usually exclude construction services and contractors’ general liability policies exclude professional services. Certain states have anti-indemnity laws for construction projects that limit the parties’ contractual ability to redress this disparate impact. One solution is appropriate cross agreements with the design professional and the contractor supported by the design professional’s errors and omissions insurance.

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