What are the Roles of a Design/Build Team?

Typically there are three primary team members on a design/build project. They include the Owner, the criteria developer, and the design/build (D/B) contractor. Each one is explained in more detail below:

1. Owner

•  Work with criteria developer to capture needs and desires in criteria documents/contract documents
•  Implement a process to select D/B contractor
•  Work with D/B contractor to finalize design and construction (sometimes through criteria developer/project manager)
•  Communicate changing needs to D/B contractor
•  Participate in punch list process
•  Move in and enjoy the new facility

2. Criteria Developer

•  Work with Owner personnel and stakeholders to draft criteria documents/contract documents
•  Sometimes hired to represent the Owner throughout construction and review design/construction/completion activities
•  May review pay applications and change orders and assist Owner in the punch list process
•  Advise Owner on contractual matters and D/B contractor compliance with contract
•  Assist Owner to maintain budget integrity

3. Design/Build Contractor 

•  Provide qualifications proposal and initial renderings to demonstrate their vision of compliance with the criteria documents
•  Confirm pricing with subcontractors that meets design criteria
•  Provide scope compliance information and agree on cost with Owner
•  Design the project using qualified design professionals and obtain Owner approval of code- compliant design that meets the criteria documents
•  Design team maintains engagement in project throughout construction
•  Construct the project, draft changes, punch out and complete the facility
•  Maintain budget and schedule throughout the duration of the project
•  Provide clear and regular communication with Owner on project status and any changes
•  Obtain good reference from satisfied Owner

So, why should an Owner select design/build?

  1. Single source of accountability – this goes for design and construction
  2. Budget management – discussing budget throughout the duration of design
  3. Enhanced communication – early and ongoing communications between Owner, design contractor, and subcontractor(s)
  4. Faster project completion – can shorten overall schedule since construction starts while design is being completed

If you have more questions or want to get started on your next project with us, reach out!


Lessons Learned on Design/Build

Schmidt Associates summarizes lessons learned after each project to continually improve. The list below summarizes our experience with various design/build projects—acting as either the criteria developer or as a member of the design/build team.

•  There can be different levels of scope or criteria development depending on the Owner’s desire for control or the desire to include certain features or products.
•  Some clients believe the design/build delivery method is less desirable for more complex or specialized projects.
•  The Owner must require a realistic schedule and hold the design/builder accountable for meeting it.
•  Owner coordination with third-party contracts before, during, or after design/build construction is difficult and may require additional coordination by the Owner.
•  It’s important to use explicit language in criteria documents to avoid gaps in the scope.
•  Highlight non-negotiable items in performance specifications to clarify scope (i.e. Energy Star requirements, windows in all offices, VRV with a minimum of 15 zones).
•  Use Construction Specific Institute (CSI) code when organizing performance specifications for referencing ease.
•  Be clear on who is removing, transporting, and installing Owner-provided products.
•  Review project-specific requirements when you review proposals and pay particular attention to required clearances.
•  Carefully review all of the design/build responses and document any exceptions prior to signing the design/build contract.

Overall, when planning a design/build project, carefully review all criteria and proactively plan the project. These lessons learned will help your project go more smoothly.

What is Design/Build?

According to Wikipedia, design/build (commonly abbreviated D/B) 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.

What does this actually mean for an owner?

Design/build results in a single point of contact for contractual responsibility for both the design and construction of a project. The design/build contractor will hold contracts with the various design and construction sub-consultants. The design/build contractor works from a set of criteria developed by the owner (or the owner’s criteria developer) and will ultimately be responsible for cost, schedule, accuracy, owner satisfaction and more.

What are the pros and cons of each?

Guaranteed maximum price
•  Single point of responsibility – accountability
•  Ability to involve the construction team through the design process and keep the designers engaged through construction
•  Increased ability to control the quality of prime contractors

Perception of the “fox watching the hen house”
•  The model is difficult to adapt to complex projects while maintaining the owner’s desired aesthetics.
•  Criteria to select the contractor can feel subjective and difficult to evaluate since a low-bid price is not the determining factor.

Check back for future blogs on roles of the design/build team and design/build lessons learned.