The construction of the Taj Mahal, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, was started in the year 1632. While the main mausoleum was completed 11 years later in 1943, work in the rest of the 42 acre complex eventually finished in 1653. It is said that over 22,000 labourers, guided by a board of architects, worked for over these years to complete the construction. Was the contract for building the Taj Mahal a Design-Build or Design-Bid-Build, we will probably never know.
Decision on the method of execution of a project today is taken at an early stage. While there are several delivery systems to execute construction and interior projects, the two most popular ones – Design-Build and Design-Bid-Build are the topic of this post.
Who decides which system to choose for a project?
For any client, the completion of a project has many ramifications. They need to plan the finance, timelines and the use of the building once completed. The quickest way to get it executed is with the Design-Build system while the Design-Bid-Build system can save some costs but add extra time to the project delivery. Therefore, it is the project owner who must choose the system before starting the project.
The Design-Build System
In the design-build project delivery system, a single firm, usually a construction and interiors company like Newton®, enters into a contract with the client to handle the entire project on a turnkey basis, including the design and execution of the project. The company then employs it’s inhouse architects or partners with other architectural firms to create the design. The design is executed by its teams or subcontractors and a finished project meeting the design intent is handed over to the client.
There are several advantages of the design-build system:
- Single ownership and responsibility of the project
- Open and transparent communication, better coordination between client and contractors
- Adversarial conditions are avoided
- Design intent is not diluted
- Faster project delivery
In the design-build process, the company that owns the contract bears all the project risks. They are therefore responsible for delivering the project on time to avoid penalites.
There are some disadvantages of the design-build system.
- The clients feel they may end up paying a slightly higher price than the Design-Bid-Build system.
- The risk of the entire project is in the hands of one company, and if that company is not trustworthy or capable, the project can suffer.
- Very less involvement of the clients in the execution process
The Design-Bid-Build System
In the design-bid-build system, the clients usually hire an architectural firm to do the design. The firm submits the drawings and tender documents to the client, who invites bids from multiple companies like Newton®. There are rounds of negotiations and the firm that offers the best value is awarded the contract to execute the project.
Some advantages of the design-bid-build system include:
- The client is assured of a lower cost of the project and can negotiate better terms
- Specialist design firms, that do not involve themselves in execution, can be hired for design
- The architects look out for the interest of the client, and ensure contractors deliver to specs.
- The client has more involvement in each stage of the design-bid-build process.
However, the design-bid-build process also has disadvantages.
- The architects fee, when added to the construction cost, sometimes takes the overall cost higher than what a design-bid system would have delivered.
- Often, clients choose the lowest bid and get contracts who do not have capabilities to deliver high quality.
- There are conflicts between the clients, architects and contractors which delays decision making and overall project timelines.
- Cost escalation and delays in such projects is quite common.
- When the overall project execution turns out to be sub-par, there is finger pointing between contracts and architects.
So works better for you – design-build or design-bid-build?
While both systems have their advantages and disadvantages, here are some pointers based on our experience of the past 25+ years, that might help you decide which system to go in for:
- For civil construction of large buildings, that needs specialist consultants like structural and MEP consultants, it is often better to go for a design-bid-build system. For smaller residential buildings, a design-build firm would be able to execute faster and at a lower cost.
- For interiors, of any size and type, it is better to opt for the design-build system as this eventually leads to time and cost savings.
The above pointers might not apply in some specific projects that have complexities. We would be happy to discuss your project and give proper guidance on the best way forward, do contact us.