Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build

So you are looking to build a new home… or you want to do a major renovation. You have an idea on how your house should look, but how do you go about doing it? What are the steps? And are the steps the right ones for my project?

While there are plenty of project delivery methods available to use, two, at the top of nearly any list, are design-bid and design-bid-build. While they may appear to only have one word of difference, the process and planning involved with each method varies tremendously.

In this blog we break these two strategies down. What’s the difference between a Design-Built home versus that of a Design-Bid-Build built home?

Design-Build is where one company develops the job documents, estimates the work, and builds the project for the client.

Design-Bid-Build is a design firm that develops the plans for the project and then the home owner sends the plans out to 3 or 4 different builders for a bid. Usually lowest price wins.

As both systems work, ultimately you will need to choose one system that will work best for your budget, your timeline and your lifestyle.

I have given you the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.


Pros of DBB

  • The DBB strategy allows the client to take advantage of lower prices from subs and suppliers.
  • Incorporates competition into the process, allowing clients to feel that they are getting the best value.

Cons of DBB

  • If Job documents are not thorough and accurate, there will be problems during constructions, including significant time delays, cost overruns and intense friction between parties.
  • If the clients decision is based primarily on cost, the bidders must have nearly identical estimating and building experience as well as similar workload and overhead, otherwise bids that come back are nearly meaningless and selecting a qualified contractor is a crapshoot.
  • The DBB process generally costs more, often significantly more, than the DB process.
  • It takes longer for the DBB process, often months longer.
  • If the contractor is losing money because of poor job documents or mistakes in his bid, it is almost certain that quality will suffer, corners will be cut, and change orders will be inflated to make up the losses.
  • On competitive bids, the “winning” bidder is often the poorest estimator, the one most desperate for work, or the one who makes the biggest mistakes; any one of which means that there will be major issues to be addressed when work begins.
  • Having whittled his numbers down to win the bid, the contractor must now charge for every change in the job documents- even ones that seem insignificant to the client- to make his hope-for profit.


Cons of DB

  • A company not exclusively focused on design may not provide the best option for a client interested in a specialized style or in a cutting edge design. (Our process solves this by having our architect and our interior designer work together with you, providing the best value at the best price).
  • The client will be left without a second design professional overseeing the project, thus losing the possible benefit of another’s viewpoint on complex or difficult issues. (With our team of architects, designers and selection coordinator, you will have multiple eyes on your project).
  • Because the same level of detail is often not required in the DB as in the DBB, the contractor may be in a position to claim that a lesser quality item or a less elaborate detail was included in the original bid figure. (With our Fixed Price Proposal, you will get a minimum 30 page detailed quote, which covers every area of your project. No need to worry if the quality of materials or selections are “cheap”, or that we are not quoting what you want.)

Pros of DB

For you as the home owner, wanting to do your project right the first time, is the way to go…

  • The Design-Build model places the responsibility for errors and omissions on the Design-Build team, relieving the owner of much of the responsibility and legal problems that so often arise when the functions are divided.
  • Less Paperwork and fewer construction details are required to be developed by the Design-Build firm because the construction staff is involved in the design-planning process. Further, this familiarity means a faster and more informed start when construction begins.
  • Because the field staff has a direct connection to the designer, once work begins, construction problems are solved in-house without needing to involve the client.
  • The entire company’s expertise and experience- including the foreman, estimators, tradesmen, suppliers and subs- are available to help make the end product practical and cost effective.
  • It’s faster because parts of the construction process- schedules, budgets, lining up materials and subs, and the permitting process among others- can happen while the design-planning is taking place.
  • Hiring a builder based on reputation and skill is the surest way to develop an enthusiastic and productive team atmosphere.
  • With the estimating departments helps, the design is guided by the budget, making it far less likely that it will require redesign and rebid.
  • Warranty issues for design and construction rest in one place. Therefore, there can be no disputes about who is responsible.

As you can see in the process of a Design-Build vs a Design-Bid-Build, the Design-Build is roughly 30% quicker than the traditional Design-Bid-Build. Saving you 30% of your time and 30% of your money.

Once you have made your decision in doing a Design-Build, the next step would be to choose your builder. Choosing your builder first will bring you the satisfaction and rewarding experience you are looking for, throughout the whole journey.

Specializing in Design-Build homes for families in Southwest Saskatchewan, we are your go to Design-Build company. Contact us here. Right now we are offering Free-Design for clients who are serious about building.