What is Design-Build Construction?

A simple approach to construction

Design-Build construction is a delivery method that provides owners with a single point of contact for both the design and construction phases of a project. With Design-Build, we hold 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. We manage all contracts with subcontractors, equipment vendors and materials providers. It’s a more streamlined way of working. A simple approach to construction with all stakeholders working in unison under one roof. Schedules are streamlined. Costs are minimized. And efficiencies are realized. A single team works together from start to finish in a common space which fosters open communication and purposeful collaboration. Together, they deliver optimal results. That’s Design-Build the Bannett Group way.


Scroll down to learn more about the Design-Build Construction process and the benefits it offers.

The Process

The design-build construction method has five primary phases:

  1. Selecting a Design-Builder
  2. Pre-construction assessments
  3. Architectural design
  4. Construction
  5. Post-construction & Warranty

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

Selecting a Design-Builder

In contrast to other methods that begin by selecting an architect, the design-build construction process begins when you select your Design-Builder. Because Design-Builders aim to find you savings throughout design and construction, you’ll benefit from using a qualifications-based selection vs 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.

Pre-construction assessments

The pre-construction phase of a project is crucial, setting the course for a successful job. It includes business and financial assessments, in which your Design-Builder’s pre-construction staff learn about your business, industry, goals, vision, financial realities and current and future facility needs. Making your Design-Builder aware of your budgetary goals early to ensure the project begin down a path that your budget cannot support.

Concurrently, architects and engineers begin architectural, mechanical and electrical system assessments and review any existing floor plans, fire and smoke preparations, interior room finishes and structural systems. While the design team gathers critical information, surveyors perform a field assessment of your job site to ready it for construction. If you’re improving your current space, your Design-Builder will assess your facility to identify areas of need. These assessments define key parameters like codes, compliance requirements, topography, the area’s weather characteristics, usable on-site natural resources and more.

With all the key information in mind, your project team partners with you to identify the right facility, design and construction program to help you achieve your goals within your budget and time constraints.

Architectural design

At this stage, your project team has a solid understanding of your business and financial needs, project schedule, cost, job site, and your facility’s architectural and mechanical requirements. Next, your construction team and project managers partner with the architectural team to value engineer cost savings into the design.

This is where design-build construction differs from other construction methods. Architects can be employed directly by the Design-Builder (the Bannett Group has an 8 person design staff), or the Design-Builder can subcontract out specialty design to trusted architectural design partners. Architects work on the same team, under the same contract, with the Design-Builder. And all key project team members come together to form a design that is an appropriate blend of form and function. Architects, engineers, construction professionals and key subcontractors and vendors can all add value at the inception of a build.


Following architectural design, you’ll save time, as you won’t need a second bid phase to select a contractor. In fact, your Design-Builder will start readying your job site while design progresses, and elements of construction can begin during the design phase. By overlapping construction and design, your project team can deliver a timely build that makes aggressive schedules possible. You’ll still have a construction team, specialty subcontractors, materials vendors and all the same quality standards as you would in other methods. But the job will get done more quickly, to a clearly defined scope with total accountability.

Post-construction & Warranty

Once your new or renovated facility is complete, your Design-Builder should provide a post-construction handoff. That includes walk-throughs, hands-on training and core documentation for owners, facility managers and facility management teams. Don’t overlook the post-construction handoff, as it’s a critical part of any build.

The Benefits of Design-Build Construction

The Design-build method 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 construction. Some of the biggest benefits of design-build are rapid delivery, a smooth process, better solutions and better communication.

Rapid delivery

As we covered in the design-build process section, design-build construction 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 between 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 construction facilitates it. All team members stay on the same page because everyone is working under one contract. And owners are kept up in the loop by a single point of contact from the Design-Builder. As a result, design-build construction 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

While Design-Build construction projects lack the hard-dollar bid phase of the traditional general contracting model, the increased efficiencies often actually reduce construction costs for owners. In addition, building smart with design-build pays dividends, reducing both real (accounting) costs and opportunity costs. Consider…

Design-build reduces project costs

How much time and money does design-build construction save when compared with general contracting and construction management? In 1998, The Journal of Construction Engineering and Management published a comprehensive study. It’s clear that design-build projects are delivered faster, more cost-efficiently and with fewer change orders that lead to unforeseen costs and schedule delays. In other words, the design-build method helps jobs get done on-time and on-budget. Based on numbers from that study, this chart compares the time and money savings design-build construction provides against design-bid-build (general contracting) and CM at Risk (construction management).





6.1% lower

4.5% lower


12% faster

7% faster


33.5% lower

23.5% lower


5.2% less

12.6% less


11.4% less

2.2% less

Design-build can deliver a savings of more than 6 percent of total project cost leveraging the improvement in unit costs alone. In a $1 million build — a relatively low-budget project — that’s more than $60,000 in savings.

Design-Build Construction reduces opportunity costs

In many builds, design-build construction projects save more in opportunity costs than it saves in accounting costs. Due to the efficient nature of Design-Build project delivery, owners can reduce time spent managing a build. And time is money. That’s time that can be put to use solving other business challenges.

In the specialty case of restaurant projects, the sooner restauranteurs and franchisees can open, the sooner profits can be realized and debt can be paid down. For some restauranteurs, a single day of lost productivity could cost several thousand dollars. So the speed of Design-Build becomes highly valuable.

Sample Project

Harley Dawn Diner

Design-build constructionChef David and April Emmons, the husband & wife owners of Harley Dawn Diner, approached The Bannett Group about designing an edgy new building to take the place of their 20 year-old classic New Jersey diner in Folsom, NJ. An engineer by training, April understood that a design-build construction approach would allow for an efficient production timeline while providing the flexibility she desired. More intensive than a traditional renovation project, the existing Harley Dawn building needed to be completely demolished, and a brand new restaurant erected in its place.

The new 4,600 square foot diner focuses on green-friendly initiatives and a sustainable design that features both geothermal and solar energy. These systems combine to ensure that Harley Dawn is 100% energy independent.The interior has a modern flair with an exposed beam structure in the ceiling and polished concrete floors. The couple worked with our architectural team to design a façade that features stacked stone and glass with almond stucco & espresso trim. The combination of a wood paneled entryway, corrugated steel accents and neon signage give the building a distinctly modern feel.

Visit Harley Dawn’s website

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