Design-Build Joint Venture
Construction Contracts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Design–build (or design/build, and abbreviated D–B or D/B accordingly) is a project delivery system used in the construction industry. It is a method to deliver a project in which the design and construction services are contracted by a single entity known as the design–builder or design–build contractor. In contrast to "design–bid–build" (or "design–tender"), design–build relies on a single point of responsibility contract and is used to minimize risks for the project owner and to reduce the delivery schedule by overlapping the design phase and construction phase of a project. "DB with its single point responsibility carries the clearest contractual remedies for the clients because the DB contractor will be responsible for all of the work on the project, regardless of the nature of the fault".

The traditional approach for construction projects consists of the appointment of a designer on one side, and the appointment of a contractor on the other side. The design–build procurement route changes the traditional sequence of work. It answers the client's wishes for a single point of responsibility in an attempt to reduce risks and overall costs. It is now commonly used in many countries and forms of contracts are widely available.

Design–build is sometimes compared to the "master builder" approach, one of the oldest forms of construction procedure. Comparing design–build to the traditional method of procurement, the authors of "Design-build Contracting Handbook" noted that: “from a historical perspective the so-called traditional approach is actually a very recent concept, only being in use approximately 150 years. In contrast, the design–build concept—also known as the "master builder" concept—has been reported as being in use for over four millenarian."

Legal Aspects of Design-Build
Method of Construction Delivery
By: Mark A. Terrill, B.S.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Design Build As with any method of project delivery, there are advantages and disadvantages to using this method. These advantages and disadvantages can depend on which entity of the design-build team is concerned (i.e. owner, designer, constructor).

Some of the major advantages of design-build are:

  • There is a single point responsibility for execution of the project. One party is responsible for the entire project. This eliminates disputes and finger pointing between designer and contractor.
  • Elimination of owner risk in warranting the design. The owner does not have to warrant the design (done by somebody else) for the contractor.
  • Reduction of change order problems between designer and contractor and acceleration of change order and design solutions.
  • Reduction of problems associated with design errors or omissions.
  • Better cost control (as a result of the previous listed advantages).
  • Promotion of construction input during design.
  • Decrease in litigation.
  • There is significant potential for the minimization of owner effort in managing the construction, assuming the design-builder performs responsibly and ethically. (One the other hand, the owner no longer has the designer as his "watchdog", and therefore if the owner has to continually "look over the shoulder" of the design-builder, owner effort is increased).
  • Provides opportunity to "fast-track", i.e. start construction before completion of design.
  • There may be lower design costs since designer does not have to "draw" to the same degree of completion as in traditional design-bid-build. That is, since 5 constructor is in the design "loop", he will be able to do the work with less detailed and thorough drawings.

Some Disadvantages to Design-Build are:

  • Introduction of the likelihood of conflict of interest for the designer. The designer is the primary contractor or working for the primary contractor and is expected to make the most cost effective decisions for the design-build team and yet keep the customer's best interest at heart.
  • The selection process can be more lengthy and complicated. This is especially true for public contracts which must follow specified procedures to allow fair and open competition.
  • Design-build is unfamiliar to courts, insurance companies, etc. which may result in unexpected problems.
  • Design-build may be limited by licensing or procurement laws or regulations.

Page Open = designbuild.html


James G. Zack, Jr.
Executive Director
Navigant Construction Forum,
Navigant Consulting, Inc.


Please, Be a Contributor!

Please select a subject from the drop-down menus that you know well and prepare text or a white paper, and submit it to the The completion of this site depends on offerings from contributors like you.

You will be listed as a contributor.


Impact Documents

Field Work Stoppage

Activity/Task Work Stoppage


Speed Memos/E-mails

Delay Notification

Cost Impact Notification