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Design Build

Accelerating Project Delivery Methods - Design Build FAQs

General Questions

What is project delivery?

Project delivery is a description of the contracting methods and relationships between the owner, designer, and contractor required to design and build a construction project. Project delivery methods include Design-Bid-Build(DBB), Design-Build(DB), and Construction Manager/General Contractor(CM/GC). The project delivery process includes: planning, budgeting, financing, environmental analysis, design, construction, and may include operations and maintenance as well.

How long does a typical transportation project take?

According to a 2002 GAO Report, Preliminary Information on the Timely Completion of Highway Construction Projects, the time required to complete an average highway project varies widely. This time will depend on the size of the project, its complexity, and the public interest in the project. Some projects may take as few as 3 years, while others may take more than 13 years.

What is the role of the transportation agency under accelerated project delivery?

State DOTs typically manage and control the full cycle of project delivery, from inception through construction. They may elect to contract with engineering consultants or construction contractors to perform various services related to the project development process

How do accelerated project delivery methods affect small businesses?

Design Build projects provide opportunities for small business (as subcontractors) to perform substantial portions of design-build projects. According to survey responses, from the FHWA's January 2006 Report to Congress on the Effectiveness of Design-Build, the roles played by small business contractors on completed design-build projects are similar to their roles on traditional building projects. from the FHWA's January 2006 Report to Congress on the Effectiveness of Design-Build, the roles played by small business contractors on completed design-build projects are similar to their roles on traditional building projects. While it has not yet been studied, CM/GC should not adversely impact small business.

Design-Build Questions

What is Design-Build?

Design-Build (DB) is a project delivery method in which the design and construction phases of a project are combined into a single contract. This project delivery method can provide significant time savings compared with the more traditional Design-Bid-Build (DBB) approach, in which design and construction are scheduled as separate phases. DB can also provide for a cost savings without reducing quality. A DB contract can be awarded on a low bid or best-value basis.

How are risks managed with Design-Build?

Design-build delivery allows agencies to assign project risks to the party that is best able to manage the risk. After a preliminary project risk assessment, the risks are delegated through appropriate provisions in the contract.

What common trends are emerging in Design-Build Contracting?

Initially, many owners awarded DB contracts on a low-bid basis, but best-value approaches are gaining momentum. Best value selection provides for the consideration of price, and non-price factors such as project management, innovation, value engineering, contractor quality control, and team reputation.

Are some projects particularly appropriate for Design-Build?

While DB is not appropriate for all highway projects, certain project features and circumstances encourage its consideration. Medium to large projects with a well-defined scope, yet more complex in nature, are well-suited to DB. So are projects that can benefit from the early application of innovative concepts in project design, construction and development. Projects with a high sense of urgency (e.g., natural disasters, facility failures), or that involve direct user financing (e.g., toll roads) are also likelier to benefit from DB.

Does using Design-Build affect project quality?

Design-build does not appear to affect the quality of highway projects. According to the FHWA's 2006 Report to Congress, project owners express equal satisfaction with the results of DB and DBB projects. Overall project owner satisfaction was highest when DB was used for large projects based upon the best value selection method. The inclusion of clear requirements for quality assurance in the DB contract, for both design and construction activities, will help ensure that a quality project is achieved.

What level of design needs to be completed prior to advertising a Design-Build Contract?

While the level of completed design may affect the proposals, clearly defining the project's scope is critical to the ultimate success of the project. The level of design included in a request for proposals (RFP) will depend on the size and complexity of the project, the degree to which performance specifications are used, and the owner's desire to allow for design innovation while controlling scope. Both the clarity of the scope and the level of design impact the ability of the proposers to respond to the initial RFP, and the selected design-builder to develop a cost-effective and constructible project design in a timely and competent manner. While each project is unique, no more than 30 percent of preliminary design should be completed before DB contract award. Lower percentages are possible as the contracting agency gains more experience with DB, and as greater reliance is placed on performance-based specifications.

Early value engineering and constructability reviews should be part of the process. Involving the designer-builder earlier in the design process improves constructability and cost-effectiveness.

What is Design-Build's impact on project costs?

DB encourages the design-builder to propose more cost-effective ways to realize performance objectives. To promote this, the agency should encourage the design-builder to use the latest innovative technologies and methodologies (e.g., value engineering) to leverage public resources effectively. Integrating contractor input during design reduces the potential for errors and omissions, change orders, and material overruns.

What effect does Design-Build have on the transportation industry?

Significantly lower cost and fewer claims for design-build projects reflect a fundamental shift in transportation construction contracting. The less adversarial atmosphere bodes well for this procurement method, particularly for high visibility projects where cooperation between project owners and their design and construction contractors is essential to project success.


Page last modified on August 14, 2013.
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