Design Build Contracting – Marwood Construction LLC

10:55 Mar 2023
Design build contracting

Design build contracting is an extremely effective building construction delivery process for undertaking a new construction project or a major renovation venture. It provides enormous benefits to the property owner by saving both time and money over the traditional delivery methods used for construction projects as you will see in this discussion.

This method is of great value to the owner in efficiently developing the construction documents and making product selections in a cost affordable and orderly manner. For there is little reason to request a formal proposal from construction companies without detailed building plans.

The most significant contributions of this approach could be the streamline and straight forward nature of this method. The design build contracting process provides the owner control over the entire design and construction endeavor by fostering a clear and definitive construction budget that fits the design plan.

We will discuss these benefits in greater detail.

Design build contracting

What is Design Build Contracting?

Design to build contracting is a construction delivery method that stream lines the design and building process for any dwelling.

To employ this method for your building project, the owner would directly hire the general contractor to develop the building design (construction documents), construction budget and manage the improvements.

This delivery method differs with the traditional delivery method, which is referred to as the design to bid process.

This is where the owner hires an architect directly to design the construction documents and then solicits building contractors to bid the plans. For a deeper dive into the design build process for remodeling.

What are the Benefits of Design to Build Delivery Method?

The benefits of the owner using the design build contracting process are plentiful;

  • Mitigates the owner’s risk by making the general contractor responsible for both design and construction,
  • Substantially reduces cost associated with building contractors design change orders caused by errors or omissions,
  • Makes the general contractor the single point of contact and performance accountability,
  • Eliminates the natural adversarial conditions between design and construction disciplines,
  • Saves measurable time and cost in the design phase by eliminating the bidding process and includes any required value engineering into the design stage instead of after the bid phase,
  • Design build leaves the owners in more control of both design and building process,
  • This method creates more effective communication between the intent of the design when it comes time for construction,

What are the Phases of Design Build Contracting?

Pre-Design Phase

There are many pre-construction phase stages to the construction progression that homeowners go through prior to actually engaging a general contractor to commence construction improvements.

The pre-design phase stages are awareness, discovery, idea collection, exploration and decision making. There is no strict procedure that all owners follow, but most will go through these stages at one time or another.

This is the pre-construction education mechanism that is a vital aspect of properly preparing for the project.

The awareness and discovery stages can take place well before the conceptual idea forming or before any serious exploration of your idea’s feasibility.

This is due to a homeowner’s individual and natural decision-making process. There are many distractions and fact checking tasks to deal with and no one person approaches these things the same way. The owner should take as much time as needed for deliberation during the pre-construction stage.

Passing through this stage without thoughtful consideration will often lead to confusion and regret and ultimately lead to an unpleasant construction experience.

Design Phase

It is important for you as an owner to recognize what stage of development you are currently in during the pre-construction and design phase.

When you have gathered sufficient information and your assortment of design ideas, it is time to find a professional to guide you through the remainder of the project.

The most considerable challenge that most homeowners have in preparing for the actual construction process is understanding all the moving parts that are involved in this process.

Letting these moving parts overwhelm you can cause even experienced building experts to lose focus or get distracted and lose sight of procedure priorities.

The design to build contracting process theoretically starts when the homeowner is ready to test the actual feasibility of their ideas.

At this point of your design process, you should be discussing and evaluating your building ideas with a carefully selected group professional general contractor. 

You should focus on determining your conceptual plans financial requirements and begin to develop some confidence and personal comfort level with the selected building contractor you would like to work with.

A qualified building contractor will not be able to give you a hard dollar amount with any assurances without detailed plans and product selections, but they should be able to offer you conceptual budget amounts in assisting you in your determination of your project’s feasibility.

The best of the best general contractors can even assist you with the cost / value equation of the properties improvements that most owners struggle with in making the final decision to proceed. To learn more about design build contractors

One of the additional benefits exclusively available to the design build contracting approach is having the assigned building contractor to provide value engineering advice during the design phase and then again after the construction cost schedule of values has been completed.

Design to Build Budget Development Phase

The traditional design to bid delivery process involves a homeowner at this stage selecting a designer or architect to implement their design ideas into a drawing for pricing.

The fundamental issue with this method is that the designer / architect may not have good or appropriate cost data for constructing your design.

As an owner you can always have the designer / architect redraw the plan to eliminate budget blow outs, but this will take you additional time and create more frustration in reaching your project goals.

Secondly, there is always the real possibility that there will be an error in the design that causes you the owner additional unexpected expenses.

There is a better way by contracting with your general contractor to provide you the project design drawings and guiding you through the entire design and building process.

Most reputable building contractors will take full responsibility for design errors and non-product selection budget surprises.

There are always going to be the possibility of hidden defects and problems that can create unexpected expenses and budget surprises.

This contracting method mitigates the design and non-product select budget surprises without the time loss and frustration of redesign. That is due to the inherent value of this process.

The major benefit is that your design build contractor is guiding you through the cost / value relationship of products and design while you are going through the design drawing process together.

We have prepared a design for construction process infographic to assist with understanding the process; please visit the design build infographic

Design Build Remodeling

What are the Owners Responsibilities for Design to Build?

Product & Color Selection Phase

The owner product selections have a key impact on both the budget and the building progress. It is not uncommon for a contract to be signed without all the new product selections and colors being finalized.

When this is the case, your general contractor will use an allowance schedule that reflects the products that you have identified as your preferences. It is essential that you finalize product selections in the priority that your builder has requested.

This allows you greater confidence in your budget and will provide some assurance that the products will be available when needed during the building.

It is advisable to maintain a color board during the actual selection process. This gives you a collective bigger picture view of the spaces theme and continuity.

The color & selection board’s utility can extend beyond selecting building products when it comes to matching material fabrics and patterns for drapes and furniture coverings.

The construction phase will likely result in greater efficiency and with the desired results without the frustration and stress of the traditional building delivery method.

Your total cost will be closer to your building budget and overall time from start to finish will also be considerably shorter term. So, if these are the results that you seek in your next project, you should give the process greater consideration and attention.

Onsite Construction Progress Meetings

The owner is required to complete elective product and color selections in a timely manner. This means completing any discretionary selections before the general contractor needs them.

The building contractor will provide the owner a list of product selections that will be required during the construction of the dwelling. These will normally be delivered in the form of an allowance schedule.

The general contractor prepares an allowance schedule for owner discretionary selection items that have not been identified at the time of contract.

The owner is also required to attend structured milestone construction progress meetings during building. These structured progress meetings are usually intended to verify that the design is working as intended.

They are also used to verify the exact placement of fixture locations, inspect millwork details and layout patterns for finishes. 

What is Design Build Construction?

Design to build construction is an excellent method to expedite a new construction from conceptual development to a finished project. The general contractor takes care of everything.

The owner and builder spend some time getting to understand each other, while they discuss the owners preferences for the new building. Once both parties are comfortable, they enter into a design consultant agreement and begin to prepare the building design.

The owner receives a comprehensive construction delivery package that are involved with each step of the process. Allowing them the time and ability to concentrate on making product selections and making decisions about the detail of their property.

What is Design Build Remodeling?

The design to build remodeling phase is the actual construction activity for the renovation improvements. With the construction contract signed and building permits in hand, the remodeling companies begins the renovation work.

This normally begins with the demo of the existing finishes, so to expose the necessary walls, ceilings and floors for access for the specified remodel changes.

A key factor to the success of a timely delivered remodeling project is ordering and receiving materials in sufficient time.

This can be a challenging problem for construction products that require to be fabricated before they are delivered and installed. This is the case with items such as casework, glass work and counter tops.

In these cases, shop drawings are essential to have drawn, properly fitted to openings and approved by all concerned. 


This method is a cost effective and a time efficient construction delivery approach for both renovations and new construction. Commissioning a building contractor to be the single point of responsibility reduces both cost and the owners stress during the remodel.

The most significant benefit of this approach is that the owner has a qualified and seasoned general contractor to guide them through the entire design and construction process. To learn more visit design to build contracting.

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