Debunking 3 Common Design-Build Myths

The design-build methodology is sound and has a strong track record when applied correctly. As with almost any industry though, no two companies are alike. Certain practitioners might not fully understand or execute the process correctly. Luckily, at ARCO, we’ve been perfecting the process for nearly 30 years and can explain why with the right partner certain design-build assumptions are in fact myths.

Myth 1: There aren’t competitive bids. 

General contractors in the design-build model still outsource their work and secure competitive pricing for each item bought that’s not being self-performed. The difference is rather than bidding competitively against other general contractors in the plan-spec world, an owner selects a design-build partner based on qualifications and their expectations of total cost and schedule. The design-builder then solicits feedback from the entire supply chain to contribute to the ingenuity of the final scope and design. For owners, this guarantees competitive processes (at the subcontractor level) while only having to deal with a single point of contact.

Myth #2: The owner is not involved in the design-build process.

Owners like having a single point of contact but worry the design-builder will be biased or exert too much control. The owner has just as much control over design and function in the design-build process as plan-spec. By picking a design-build partner, the owner is choosing someone who’s going to assemble the best team based on intent and the client’s specific needs to deliver a cost-effective solution. The design-builder’s job is to work hand-in-hand with the owner, designer and subcontractors to arrive at the best possible solution for each decision in the process.

Myth #3: The owner gives up too much control.

Owners might believe by handing over both the design and construction decisions, they lose transparency. This risk is offset by using the appropriate amount of due diligence before hiring a design-builder, or an owner can hire a representative who has experience selecting design-build partners. Owners are required to invest more time early in the process which will ensure the best experience and that expectations are fully met.

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