Design Bid Build Process (DBB): All You Need to Know About the Process, Pros, Cons

Written by Bridget Cooper

DateJan 6, 2024
Reading time9 min read
design bid build

In the construction industry, the success of every project relies on the methodologies used. The actual construction of a building entirely depends on the project delivery method used. If the wrong method is used, money, project timeline, and other valuable resources will be wasted.

The most commonly used project delivery methods are the design bid build (DBB) and the design-build (DB). So, if you are still thinking of the best delivery method for your complicated projects, this article has all the information you need about DBB and DB.

What Is the Design Bid Build Method (DBB)?

The design bid build method is the most commonly used project delivery method in the construction industry. The DDB method uses a linear approach in designing and constructing the project. In the design bid build delivery method, the design team works with project owners to design the project and draft contract documents. There is no contract bond between the contractors and designers except for the communication and programming of the project.

In the DBB method, the design and construction phases are clearly separated. The project owner has the upper hand as they can control the design phase and ensure there is competitive pricing for the construction projects. When the design is finished, it is sent out to general contractors for bidding. The GC and subcontractors have at least 2-4 weeks to price the construction project.

The owner and the design team will then evaluate the bid to choose the best GC to work with. After the contract is finalized, the project can now be scheduled and materials ordered. The DBB method opens up the market competition as all qualified general contractors can submit the bid. Due to the competitive bidding process, the whole process lowers the construction costs.

Because of the linear approach used, the DBB method offers the project owner a better management policy and a little consideration on the communication and construction delivery method. There are still more drawbacks of this delivery method and we will discuss them later in the article.

How Does Design Bid Build Work?

As its name suggest, The DBB method comprises of three distinct phases: design, bid, and build. We will go over each of the phases below.

Design Phase

In this phase, the owner engages or contracts a design engineer to develop a comprehensive design of the project, including a set of construction drawings and specifications. The design engineer or architect works with the owner to get a clear vision of the project and translate it into a document that contractors will use in building the desired structure.

The design engineer can also provide additional services such as stakeholder management, environmental investigation, permitting, and project funding submission. Additionally, the architect may work with professionals such as electrical engineers and plumbers on specific section of the design provided. After that, the document is now ready for public bidding process.

Bid Phase

After the design phase is complete, general contractors can now submit their bids on the design bid build projects based on design plans and specifications. This can be after the GCs have a thorough consultation with the subcontractors on aspects like landscaping, insulation, the construction process, etc. The final bid includes the labor and material costs while the scope of work gets clarified.

During the bid process, everybody's roles are clearly laid outAfter that, the owner chooses the lowest bidder for their DBB project. In some cases, the owner may not just focus on price. They can also consider the technical aspects to select the best. After that, the selected general contractor signs the contract documents with the owner. The GC then may hire the subcontractor to work with on various aspects of the project.

Build Phase

In the build phase, the general contractor is now responsible for the construction project as per the contract. The GC starts and oversees the construction project to the end. It's the GC who supervises and gets work done by subcontractors. Generally, the design engineers or architects have limited oversight at this stage. However, they are the ones who answer questions related to the design.

If a construction manager is not involved in the project, the design engineer or architect may step in for the project owner in administering the contract. That includes validating interim payments and also validating the project's progress.

Multiple Prime Contracting in Design Bid Build Method

Another crucial aspect in the design bid build project delivery method is multiple prime contracting (MPC). In MPC, the project owner decides to have separate contracts with contractors such as mechanical, structural, and electrical contractors. Also, in MPC, the owner or construction manager is in charge of the whole construction schedule and budget.

So, what is the role of a construction manager or project manager in DBB?

Roles of Construction Manager

Construction manager (CM) or project manager (PM) is responsible for;

  • Reviewing design process: The CM is responsible for preconstruction planning. They review the design documents and specifications submitted by the design contractor.
  • Bid evaluation: The CM/PM assists the owner in the bid selection process. They can help the owner find the most suitable contractor and subcontractor for the project through bid evaluation.
  • Construction budget preparation: The construction manager also assists the owner in preparing the budget and work schedules. They are also responsible for coordination and tracking project activities.
  • Construction oversight: The PM/ CM is also responsible for overseeing the construction work. They have to ensure the work being done by the contractor is proceeding as scheduled and within the agreed budget. They are also responsible for overseeing quality control of the construction project to ensure quality standards.
  • Resolution of disputes: The PM offers a resolution if a dispute arises between the owner and contractors.

Potential Risks of Using the Design Bid Build Method

For years now, the design bid build has been the standard project delivery method in the construction industry. Through this method, owners have received reliable price data before the project kicks in.

Because of proper design planning and budgeting, the DBB process has made it easy for owners to predict price outcomes from the bids submitted. Even with that, there are risks involved when using the DBB method. It includes;

  • The owner spends a lot of time and money in the design phase
  • The costs outlined are subject to change during the construction phase
  • The design process can take longer as the construction phases do not overlap
  • Contractors have limited time to provide enhanced performance
  • The level of inspection needed by the owner is of a higher level

Even with the risks involved, most project owners still consider the design bid build method the best of all project delivery methods. So, as a project owner, contractor, or subcontractor, what can you expect from design bid build method? Let's now look at the pros and cons of this method.

Pros of Design Bid Build

There is a clear distinction between the teams as the contractor and design engineers each stay on their lanes

  • The owner enjoys great transparency as the roles are clearly stated
  • The public bidding window ensures a competitive and fair bidding process
  • Professionals focus on their expertise and deliver quality in their niche
  • The owner has a greater responsibility for multiple prime contracting
  • Construction fees are fixed as per the construction contract
  • Applicable in various projects, including public projects
  • Design changes can be made prior to the construction phase

Cons of Design Bid Build

  • The construction phase cannot start unless the designs are ready and approved.
  • Construction project may take longer as you can't move to the next phase without completing the first.
  • The owner carries the risk as the contractor and subcontractors have no say in the design documents.
  • The design engineer may not consider the practical constructibility of the project as the contractors are not included in the design phase.
  • The construction costs remain unknown to the owner until contractors submit their bids. The estimated costs depends on the owner's bidding and compensation method.

When Should You Use the Design Bid Build Process?

Design bid build is best for linear sequencing projects where one phase has to be completed before moving to the next phase. The DBB project delivery method is best where the project owner needs to be in full control of the design phase for budget sensitive projects that are not time-sensitive.

For instance, the public sector often uses this delivery method in their construction and infrastructure projects as needed by the state statutes. Also, some private developers searching for low-cost bids opt for this method. So, if your project is budget sensitive but not time sensitive, this can be the best method for you.

Design Bid Build Vs. Design Build: What are the Difference?

Before we look at the difference between DBB and DB, let's look at the definition of design build.

What is Design Build?

Design build is a new project delivery method where the design and construction phases get combined in a single contract. This is the complete opposite of DBB method. In DB, the contractors come at the first phase, design phase, and work with the design team.

So, the main difference between design bid build and design build is the type of contract. In DBB, there is multiple prime contracting whereas in DB it's a single contract.

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Is Design Bid Build Better than Design Bid for Your Project?

Actually, there is no definite answer to this question. The method you use depends on your project timeline, risk tolerance, budget constraints, and project complexity. So, the method you choose entirely depends on what you want. We hope the differences above will also help you settle on a decision.

Written by Bridget CooperUpdated on Feb 23, 2024

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