Building Owner’s Guide to Basic Construction Project Delivery Methods

Building Owner’s Guide to Basic Construction Project Delivery Methods

Building Owner’s Guide to Basic Construction Project Delivery Methods

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If you are an owner about to embark on a new construction project, the project delivery method, or how the project will be designed and constructed, is one of the most important decisions you can make.

The delivery method you select will have an impact on setting a realistic budget, setting a schedule that reflects the completion date and establishing a process that leads to proper documentation.

In this article we will describe the three basic Building Delivery Methods:

  1. Design-Bid-Build
  2. Design-Build
  3. Negotiated

In reality, there are several more methods, all of which are variations of the three mentioned above.

1. Design-Bid-Build (DBB)

First, let’s discuss Design-Bid-Build.  This is the primary delivery system used by the government for public projects, but many private owners use this system as well. DBB encompasses three main stages: design, procurement, and construction.

With this delivery system, the first step is for the end user to select a design team to develop plans and documents that describe the end user’s requirements.  Once these documents are approved by the end user, a list of contractors is selected to bid on the project.

During the bid process, the selected contractors study the plans and invite subcontractors and vendors to provide pricing.  Once all prices are received and analyzed, the contractor uses the lowest price submitted for each trade to prepare his bid.  To ensure the contractor receives the award for the project, it is in his best interest to provide the lowest cost to the owner or end user.  Bids have strict deadlines and are required to be submitted by a specific date and time – usually be email.

It may seem like an easy process, but due to the pressure of trying to provide the lowest cost, items of work may be left out in the original bid.  These errors, many times, lead to “strong” discussions which may turn into legal claims – the main disadvantage of this delivery system.

2. Design-Build (DB)

Secondly, there is the Design-Build method. Design-Build is a method that combines architectural and engineering design services with construction performance, all under one contract.

In this method, the owner selects a Design-Build team to work with throughout the process.  The owner has one point of contact, thereby allowing the design coordination to be left to his selected team.  During this process, the owner shares his building requirements and desired overall costs.

It is the goal of the Design-Build team to deliver the project with the owner’s specifications and within the budget, but sometimes the owner’s expectations may be more than the Design-Build team can deliver.

3. Negotiated

The third delivery method is the Negotiated delivery method. This is where the owner selects an architect and general contractor early in the design process.  The general contractor is typically selected based on project experience and a fixed fee.

During this process, the contractor adds value to ensure costs are contained by presenting cost options or Value Engineering suggestions.  Also, the contractor develops the overall construction schedule to ensure the design is completed and then built to the owner’s timetable.  Here, Owner, Architect, and Contractor all work as a team, typically in and “open book” fashion.


In summary, there are several modifications to the above delivery systems, each with their own special name, but the main three are those presented here.

If you are starting this process, we would be happy to further present the pros and cons of each delivery method. Email any questions you have to or call 770-693-9000 if you would like to continue the discussion.

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