Design Bid or Design Build – What’s Right for You?
Bruce A. Sommers, President
Design Bid or Design Build? There is a difference! Which is best for you and your project?
The traditional Design Bid process involves selecting someone to design and prepare plans, usually an architect or Building
Designer. They need to “plug” into your vision and create the desired “look”, room layout or design using their technical
expertise, creative skills and professional judgment to translate your wish list into a reality, at least on paper, or, perhaps
now that we are in the 21st century, in the computer or on a CD.
Now you send a set of plans out for bid to three builders or contractors for pricing and after a week or two they come back
to you with price proposals supposedly based on the plans. However, you usually wind up with a bunch of qualifications to
their bids the “Apples, Oranges, Pears and Nuts”. Was it on the plans? Should it have been on the plans? Did it really need
to be on the plans? Should it have been known or anticipated anyway? It’s going to cost more because the original cost was
based on the plans and that was not on the plans. So for the past several hundred years the method of project delivery has
evolved into a, we, and they, two headed snake. Who is really responsible? Perhaps it’s the engineers, Wall Street or the
government. But let’s not go there.
Does the traditional method of changing horses mid stream, design by the almighty architect handing off to the change
order happy builder really make sense today? Isn’t today’s client looking for a quicker turnaround from concept to
completion, or more importantly a single source of responsibility? The Design Build approach is once again becoming the
preferred method of project delivery because it creates a partnership between the owner or client, the architect or Building
Designer and the contractor or builder where each is obligated to the other, so that all are committed to a satisfactory
The Design Build process also involves selecting someone to design and prepare plans, however, a true Design Build firm
does this in house or in collaboration with an outside architect or Building Designer. This team approach involves all the
parties from the get go, resulting in a quicker turnaround from concept to completion, or more importantly a single source
As a member of the team being involved during the design phase the builder can assist the designer and the owner in
controlling cost by providing alternative material selections or design cost options. This team approach also allows for
more accurate pricing at an earlier point in time before the final plans and details are completed thus reducing costly plan
revisions and cost overruns.
Now that you have a set of plans that have translated your vision into a cost effective reality within your budget you’re
ready to get started on the actual construction of the project. The builder won’t be pointing fingers at the designer or getting
out the change order book because he was involved from the beginning as a member of the team.
Now if you, the owner or client, can refrain from changing your mind the project should stay within budget. And you have
the comfort of having a single source of responsibility for the successful completion of the project from concept to
completion and for any warranty issues that may arise.
The Design Build professionals at Ashworth Design and Remodeling are educated and experienced Designers and Builders
seeking intelligent clients as partners in the practice of Design Build.