- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 20 Sep 2019
Design and build - pros and cons
Design and build is a term describing a procurement route in which a single contractor is appointed to design (or complete the design) and then to construct the works. This is as opposed to a traditional contract, where the client appoints consultants to undertake the design and then a contractor is appointed to construct the works.
The fact that there is a single point of responsibility for the client to deal with once the contract is awarded can also make things simpler. The client is also able to engage with the contractor and their design team or supply chain earlier in the design process to try and achieve a more practical or buildable solution if necessary.
In terms of cost, it allows the client a certain amount of control as the contractor generally agrees to take on responsibility for the design and construction for a pre-agreed price. This means that the contractor takes on much of the financial risk (which may be reflected in the price). However, as the contractor is responsible for the design, they may make cost savings here (which can impact on quality).
Under some design and build contracts, the design team will be novated to the contractor, which can benefit quality (ie they transfer from working for the client to working for the contractor). This can be beneficial to the client as it maintains continuity between pre-tender and post-tender design whilst leaving sole responsibility for designing and building the project with the contractor. However, it can leave them without suitable independent advisors to help them oversee the developing design and then the construction. For more information, see Novation.
There are some disadvantages to the design and build procurement route. In terms of quality, the contractor may exploit a specification that is open to interpretation and choose the cheapest route. This can mean that quality may be compromised if the employer’s requirements do not adequately ensure the anticipated specifications are adhered to.
There is also the risk that the client may have to pay more if the contractor has to take on an unreasonably high level of risk due to a lack of design clarity when tendering. In terms of design flexibility, it is also important to consider that any request for changes will have cost and time implications.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Construction contract.
- Construction management contract.
- Design and build.
- Design build operate (DBO).
- Design build operate maintain DBOM.
- Design liability.
- Employer’s requirements.
- JCT Design and Build Contract.
- Management contracting - pros and cons.
- Procurement route.
- Traditional contract - pros and cons.
Featured articles and news
Proactive measures to secure property during extreme times.
Safety guidance from BSI released; comments requested.
Scour can make river currents structurally damaging.
Indoor environmental quality looks at air quality and other wellbeing factors.
A procurement method associated with Public Private Partnerships.
Infrastructure can use digital technology to encourage human growth.
Robotics and the construction industry.
ECA comments on CLC's three-phase recovery plan.
Their diplomatic and architectural history.
The origins of the six volume series.
Built to defend British waters, only to serve as pirate radio stations later.
Wellbeing to influence mix of home and office based working.
An introduction to cobotics.
Survey reports on outlook for the engineering sector.
A simple path to possible error avoidance.
Construction + technology = ConTech.