MTR’s DESIGN & BUILD METHOD

What is Design-Build?

Design-Build is a construction delivery method that provides owners with a single point of contact for both the design and construction phases of a project. One entity holds single-source responsibility and contractual risk for every aspect of a build — from estimation, assessments and pre-construction to architecture, schematics, engineering, subcontracting, construction and post-construction. This entity, the Design-Builder, manages all contracts with companies, such as subcontractors, equipment vendors and materials providers.

Unlike in other construction methods, owners contract only with the Design-Builder. In the two other primary construction methods used today — construction management and general contracting (also known as design-bid-build) — owners contract with different entities for architectural design and construction. Since Design-Build brings together all elements of a project, architects work in coordination with other members of the project team. In other methods, architectural design is completed separately, sometimes resulting in unforeseen costs and delays during the construction process. But Design-Build allows your project team to provide insights into the costs and constructibility of different designs. The end result is a sound design, a budget defined and a schedule streamlined. It ensures business goals are met.

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The Design-Build process has five main phases:

1.     Selecting a Design-Builder

2.     Pre-construction assessments

3.     Architectural design

4.     Construction

5.     Post-construction

But unlike other construction methods, the phases overlap. All team members collaborate throughout the process to provide rapid project delivery.


Selecting a Design-Builder

The Design-Build process begins when you select your Design-Builder. In other methods, you would start by selecting an architect. To limit the potential risks associated with having one entity design and construct your facility, you may have a competitive bidding process for Design-Builders.

Because Design-Builders aim to find you savings throughout design and construction, you’ll benefit from using a qualifications-based selection. That means you select the Design-Builder with the best credentials, experience, expertise and team. Alternatively, you can use a best-value selection method, in which you select a Design-Builder based on a combination of estimated price and added value in addition to experience, expertise and credentials. Our recommendation is to avoid using a hard-dollar, low-bid selection process. The reason? Design-Builders deliver the best value by evaluating budget solutions early in the design process and by creating continuous price estimates as the design progresses. Limiting your prospective builders to hard-dollar bids before they have a chance to get into the project can lead to misleading and uncertain estimates. Even worse, it can mean a project that doesn’t deliver what you need.

Benefits of Design-Build

Design-Build offers many unique benefits and advantages that other construction methods simply don’t deliver. It’s why 90 percent of our projects are Design-Build. Some of the biggest benefits of Design-Build are rapid delivery, a smooth process, better solutions and better communication.

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Rapid delivery

As we covered in the Design-Build process section, Design-Build offers rapid delivery because design and construction happen concurrently and because there’s only one selection phase instead of two. The delivery method turns otherwise impossible timeframes into reality.

Smooth process

Time and again, Design-Build reliably equates to headaches eliminated, teams collaborating and owners pleased. The single-source responsibility afforded by Design-Build means there’s no conflicting recommendations from contractor and architect. Instead, one entity has total accountability for any and all construction and design elements. Owners know where the buck stops, and the way is paved for a smooth owner experience.

Better solutions and better value

In Design-Build, there’s no need to limit solutions to traditional ideas. The job is the boss. So teams are only limited by what’s right for the job. As ideas come to the table, teams work as one unit to analyze them, in full transparency, so owners are assured of getting the best materials, siting, schedule, design and more. This innovative process makes it possible for owners to see more options, make better-informed decisions and realize a better value.

Better communication and fewer problems

Delivering a successful Design-Build project requires open collaboration between all team members. Creating a team-oriented approach promotes high levels of communication and transparency, both imperative to the success of any project. It allows owners to share their vision with the team, and align the interests of the stakeholders. The team-oriented approach also provides the collaborative effort necessary to evaluate the project’s objectives, assess schedules and analyze opportunities as the project progresses. As a team, no other group is better qualified to align the owner’s vision with the project’s goals and objectives.

Design-Build facilitates it. All team members stay on the same page because everyone is working under one contract. And owners are kept up to date by a set contact from the Design-Builder. As a result, Design-Build is well suited for the most complex jobs, simplifying them so owners realize better quality, require fewer claims and receive litigation-free builds.

Design-Build cost savings

Due to its efficiency, Design-Build often reduces construction costs for owners. This may come as a surprise, given that Design-Build projects lack the hard-dollar bid phase that general contracting affords. But building smart with Design-Build pays dividends, reducing both real (accounting) costs and opportunity costs. In this section, we show you how Design-Build reduces these costs. To further explore the topic of construction costs and how to plan for them, see our guide to construction finance.