August 2, 2023 in Mixed Use, Design Build

Design Build vs. Traditional Development: Which is Better?

design build

Two prevalent methods stand out in construction and project delivery: Design Build and Traditional Development. Each approach offers distinct advantages and considerations that significantly impact project outcomes. In this piece, we will examine the distinctions between Design Build and Traditional Development, analyzing their distinct features and advantages.

Design Build: Collaboration and Efficiency

design build

Design Build is an integrated project delivery method combining design and construction phases into one cohesive process. Under the Design Build approach, a single entity or team assumes responsibility for designing and constructing the project. This method fosters collaboration, open communication, and seamless coordination among all stakeholders, resulting in numerous advantages.

Streamlined Communication

Design Build encourages direct and efficient communication channels among architects, engineers, contractors, and clients. With all team members involved from the project’s early stages, decision-making is expedited, potential conflicts are resolved swiftly, and a shared understanding of project objectives is shared. Streamlined communication enhances project efficiency and minimizes delays.

Concurrent Design and Construction

One of the defining features of Design Build is its ability to execute the design and construction phases concurrently. Different from the sequential nature of Traditional Development, where construction can commence once the design phase is complete, Design Build allows for parallel progress. This overlap accelerates project timelines, enabling faster delivery and reducing overall project duration.

Cost Savings

Design Build provides opportunities for cost savings throughout the project lifecycle. The team can offer valuable insights into cost-effective materials, construction methods, and value engineering by involving construction professionals early in the design phase. The collaborative approach also reduces change orders and enhances cost control, ensuring the project remains within budgetary constraints.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Design Build embraces flexibility, allowing for adjustments and modifications during the construction phase. This agility ensures that unforeseen challenges or client preferences can be accommodated promptly. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances minimizes disruptions, promotes client satisfaction, and facilitates the successful completion of the project.

Traditional Development: Sequential Process and Control

design build

Traditional Development, also known as the Design-Bid-Build approach, follows a sequential process where each phase is completed before progressing to the next. It involves separate contracts for design and construction, with the owner acting as the intermediary between the architect and contractor. While this approach offers certain advantages, it also presents distinct characteristics and considerations.

Design Phase Control

In Traditional Development, the owner retains greater control during the design phase. They can review and approve each design element before proceeding to construction. This level of control allows for more detailed design customization and alignment with specific requirements and preferences.

Competitive Bidding

Traditional Development typically involves competitive bidding for the construction phase. The owner solicits bids from multiple contractors based on the completed design. This process aims to secure the most cost-effective construction contract. However, the competitive bidding process can introduce complexities, such as potential delays and challenges associated with contractor selection.

Sequential Project Timeline

One significant difference between Traditional Development and Design Build is the sequential project timeline. In Traditional Development, construction can commence once the design is finalized, approved, and the contract awarded. This sequential approach may lead to longer project durations and potential delays if issues arise during construction.

Potential Communication Gaps

With Traditional Development, communication primarily occurs between the owner, architect, and contractor. The fragmented nature of this approach may result in potential communication gaps or misinterpretations between different project stakeholders. Effective coordination and collaboration among multiple parties are essential to overcome these challenges.


Design build is considered superior to traditional building development for several reasons. It offers a single point of responsibility, streamlines the process, and enhances communication and collaboration between designers and builders. It leads to time and cost savings, promotes value engineering and innovation, reduces risks, and improves the overall quality of the project. Design build provides greater efficiency and value for the owner, making it a preferred choice in many construction projects.

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