The Benefits of Design-Build and How Summit Excels 

As the industry’s fastest growing project delivery method, design-build is gaining traction as a cost and time-efficient way to build sustainable, high-performance buildings.

With design-build construction spending anticipated to grow 18% annually, reaching more than $320 billion by 2021, design-build is on track to represent up to 44% of total U.S. construction spending within two years, reports FMI in its “Design-Build Utilization Combine Market Study.”

Unlike traditional approaches where the facility is first designed by the architect who then hands the plans over to the contractor, design-build brings the full project team together at the onset to simultaneously design and build the facility in an integrated fashion. This enables the architects to benefit from the contractor’s expertise and more efficiently deliver the final product.

“Contractors are able to provide insights into costs, permitting, materials and constructability from the get go which helps eliminate unforeseen costs and delays,” explains Adam Miller, President, Summit Design + Build.

For example, by engaging the subcontractors early on, long-lead materials can be identified and purchased directly from suppliers, thereby shortening the project schedule.

“I think more and more developers are realizing that they get single-source responsibility, minimized costs and streamlined schedules utilizing a design-build approach,” he adds.

In fact, 58% of owners surveyed in FMI’s study anticipate using design-build in the next five years and 67% predict that design-build will continue to increase.

Design-Build Advantages

A typical design-build project begins with the building owner, general contractor/construction manager, architect, engineers, subcontractors and suppliers collaborating together at one table. Working as a full integrated team, there are no adversarial conditions as the group shares responsibility for the project. In this manner, any complexities and challenges can be more efficiently addressed as the expertise of each party is optimally leveraged.

With overlapping design and construction tracks, projects are typically expedited and the collaborative process results in few, if any change orders, and much less litigation.

“When you employ a design-build approach, you get rapid delivery, out of the box solutions, more transparency, reduced project and opportunity costs, and total collaboration,” reiterates Miller.

More Statistics

Offering additional insights into design-build performance levels, the Construction Industry Institute and Charles Pankow Foundation funded researchers at the University of Boulder Colorado and the University of Florida to revisit a CII Comparison of U.S. Project Delivery System report from 1998. Utilizing a sample of 212 contemporary projects, the results confirmed that 20 years later, design-build that continues to deliver projects in a timely, cost-effective manner.

In the updated report, design-build was found to deliver projects 61% faster than construction manager at risk (CMR) and 102% faster than design-bid-build (DBB). In addition, design-build projects experience 2.4% less cost growth than CMR and 3.8% less than DBB.

Schedule Performance Comparison

The Selection

As design-build projects gain momentum in a variety of building types and regions, the selection of project delivery methods is ultimately determined by a number of variables. Offering some insight here, in FMI’s survey of building owners, 48% named the delivery schedule as having the greatest influence, 46% identify owner’s goals and objectives, 45% listed contractor experience and 41 percent believe that initial cost is the most influential factor.