The Beauty of Architect-Led Design-Build


NCRMA-Open-AreaDesign-Build is the project delivery method where the design and construction aspects are performed under a single contract with a single entity. A single source is responsible for both designing and building the project (thus the name).

One of the oldest forms of construction (the “master builder” approach), Design-Build continues to grow in popularity because of its many benefits:

  • Owner’s risk is minimized with single-source responsibility.
  • Schedule is reduced with the design and construction phases overlapping, and bidding phase eliminated.
  • Costs are¬†evaluated constantly as construction personnel are engaged early in the process.

In all fairness, Design-Build does have some issues:

  • Design-Build does not usually make use of competitive bidding (no competitive bid for GC, but subcontracts can be bid)
  • Subjective selection process.
  • Difficult to coordinate properly for publicly funded projects.

For privately funded projects, it seems to me that ALL of the “cons” are outweighed by the “pros” IF the Client has¬†a better-than-average level of¬†TRUST¬†in the Design-Builder.¬† And, trust is noticeably lacking in today’s economic climate.

The “design-builder” has, in recent history, been the general contractor.¬† However, in a growing number of cases, the Design-Builder can also be the design professional (the Architect or Engineer).

In our experience, a bi-product of the design collaboration process between the Architect and the Owner is¬†the significant amount of¬†trust¬†that builds¬†in the relationship.¬†¬†When performed¬†correctly, the design process demonstrates¬†that the Architect has the Owner’s (and the project’s) best interests at heart.¬† That trust can compel the Owner to request that the Architect consider building the project in addition to designing it.¬† (That has happened to us on more than one occasion.)

Taken a step further, the Architect becomes the Design-Builder, and is the single-source for the entire project.

(Let me pause here to say this about licensing regulations:  Laws vary from state to state on this, but in North Carolina, generally speaking, anyone who contracts to build a building (even Architects and Engineers) must be a licensed general contractor.  Architects are prohibited from simply hiring a general contracting company to build their projects for an owner.  In order to provide Architect-led Design-Build services, Architects have to create a separate entity and become licensed general contractors, as is the case with us.  So there are some licensing hurdles to clear.)

10d-Logo-2015Our Design-Build entity is experiencing significant growth.  A significant portion of our business over the past couple of years has been Architect-led Design-Build.  This is no coincidence.  Our Clients have experienced the horror of Design-Bid-Build, and long for an easier, quicker, cleaner method.  I firmly believe that by allowing the Architect to provide single-source responsibility for the project Рdesign and construction Рthe Client has a greater chance of obtaining a successful project.  Our recent history states this as fact.



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