Exploring the Benefits of Design-Build

April 10, 2023

Pat Chisholm


Today’s clients in the commercial construction industry are becoming more informed, knowledgeable, and savvy when it comes to capital facility and construction needs. Nowhere is this more visible than in highly technical markets involving complicated construction requirements such as Life Sciences, Aviation + Aerospace, Industrial + Manufacturing, and Food + Beverage, all BE&K core markets.

Once a capital facility need is identified, one of the biggest decisions facing clients involves how to best approach their project — what delivery method will provide the greatest overall advantage?

In his recent blog, Kevin Melancon, BE&K’s Director of Project Development, highlighted three primary construction delivery methods to consider when planning a new project. These include design-bid-build, construction management at risk with design-assist, and design-build. Check out his blog here to read more about the contrast/comparison of these three delivery methods. In this blog post, I want to zero in on the design-build delivery method, discuss its benefits, and explain why it is becoming the delivery method of choice for many construction projects.

As Kevin shared, design-build is BE&K’s project delivery method of choice. BE&K has been providing design-build services for more than 30 years. As a founding member of the Design-Build Institute of America, BE&K recognized the significant advantages this delivery method provides to our clients and the overall health and success of our projects. We’re observing that many of today’s private clients are beginning to realize the same as more and more are electing the design-build delivery method for their projects.

What is Design-Build Construction?

In contrast to design-bid-build (also known as lump sum / hard bid general contracting) and construction management at risk (where the construction manager is selected early to provide preconstruction and design-assist support services), design-build produces a single source of contractual responsibility between the client and design-builder for both design and construction. The design-builder provides both the design and construction teams and becomes involved much earlier in the process than the other traditional delivery methods mentioned. As a result, the design-builder coordinates the development of the project’s schematic, design development, and construction documents with a major commitment to producing overall best value for the client. Although design and construction phase activities have different emphases, the same reporting structure and key players are in place throughout the project’s lifecycle providing a huge benefit to the project’s overall success. A few of the advantages of the design-build delivery method include:

Enhanced Design Creativity

Enhanced design creativity can be achieved by involving the design, construction, and key trade partners in the design-build process. This broadens the expertise and perspectives available to the project and often leads to new, innovative solutions that would not have been otherwise possible.

Greater Cost + Time Savings

Design-build is the most collaborative approach promoting real-time value engineering (VE), ensuring that system performance is maintained while eliminating potential secondary design costs and time associated with VE typically performed downstream.

VE is the process of identifying and implementing design changes that reduce the cost of a project while maintaining its essential functions, quality, and performance.

In addition, phased release of design and permitting can provide for earlier construction starts on select scopes (e.g., civil, utilities, foundations, structural, etc.) long before design is fully complete — producing the shortest possible overall schedule duration and reducing overall project costs associated with general conditions required to manage the project.

Early Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP)

The project’s GMP can often be achieved by not later than 90% design, if not much sooner, as evidenced in the Case Study provided below.

Higher Quality

Quality control is enhanced because the same team is responsible for design and construction. Consistency (the same team working together from start to finish) improves coordination and promotes quality.

Faster Speed-to-Market

Design-build typically produces increased speed to market for the client’s final product.


As an example of success, a recent confidential client selected BE&K as the design-builder for the fit-out of their pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. From the beginning, the design-build delivery method has allowed BE&K to take advantage of numerous time- and cost-saving opportunities.

The client competitively bid the project to a select shortlist of design-build firms at 35% initial design. As a result, the client’s pricing was locked down very early. As the selected design-builder, it became BE&K’s job to manage our design team from 35% design to 100% design to ensure we achieved the project’s budget. Of note, competitive pricing was still achievable even with this early price lock.

A key benefit has been that the design team reports directly to BE&K. This chain of command has provided the ability to focus the design team where needed to provide the most attention at any given time (e.g., defining long-lead equipment for purchase and designing overhead mechanical, electrical, and plumbing for prefabrication). Focusing early on these key design components significantly advanced the project’s construction start.

Due to the project’s rapid design phase, BE&K was also able to start virtual design coordination earlier (while the design was being completed). Prefabrication was able to begin earlier to the point that when construction began, all prefabrication was complete (trimming even more time off the schedule). And as I write this blog, design is ongoing, but construction has already begun! This is what a successful design-build project looks like.


In summary, the design-build delivery method is becoming an increasingly popular option for many of today’s most advanced clients. Advantages include faster project delivery and speed-to-market, greater cost saving opportunities, improved quality control, and increased collaboration, accountability, and efficiency.

Are you looking to get the most out of your next project? Design-build may be the right approach for you. BE&K has an experienced design-build team that can guide you through your next project and provide best-value solutions for any challenge you may encounter. To learn more about the benefits of design-build and the help BE&K can offer, please contact Pat Chisholm at Pat.Chisholm@bekbg.com.