A red construction helmet, yellow work gloves, and other equipment sits on a wooden surface alongside construction designs.

When it comes to construction projects, there are two primary ways that owners can choose to procure services: design-bid-build and design-build. Each of these methods has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand both before making a decision about which is right for your project. 

The Difference Between Design Build and Design-Bid-Build

Though the names are similar, design build and design-bid-build construction processes are distinct. The biggest difference between design-build and design-bid-build is in the way that projects are structured. 

Design Build Construction

Design-build is a single-source procurement method in which the owner contracts with a single entity – typically a general contractor or construction manager – to provide both design and construction services. This type of arrangement is often used when the owner wants to streamline the project delivery process and have a single point of responsibility.

During design build construction, the design & build contractor will work with the owner to develop a detailed scope of work and budget for the project. Once these are approved, the design-build contractor will proceed with both the design and construction phases. 

Design Bid Build

Design bid build construction is a more traditional method of procuring construction services. A project owner will contract separate entities for the design and construction phases of the project. This type of arrangement is often used when the owner wants to have more control over the project and ensure that the design meets their specific needs.

As suggested by the name, the design-bid-build process consists of three phrases: design, bid, and build. First, the project owner will contract with an architect or engineering firm to complete the design of the project. Once the design is finished, the owner will put the project out to bid, soliciting bids from general contractors interested in completing the construction work. The owner will then award the construction contract to the lowest bidder. 

Pros and Cons of Design Build and Design-Bid-Build Construction

When deciding which construction method to use for your project, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each method in order to make an informed decision. The specific details of your project will also affect your decision. 

Design Build Advantages

The advantages of design build construction include: 

  • Better coordination and transitions between phases
  • Single point of responsibility and accountability
  • Simplified communication between parties
  • Streamlined project delivery
  • More efficient timelines

Disadvantages of Design Build

You should also be mindful of the potential drawbacks to design build construction, such as: 

  • Owner has less involvement and control and relies more on the design-builder
  • Design-builder may need to purchase additional liability insurance since they are taking responsibility for the project
  • May feel riskier with owners putting all of their eggs in one basket (choosing a reputable contractor should alleviate this concern)

Design Bid Build Advantages

The design bid build delivery method has some key advantages, as well, including: 

  • More control for owners during the design and construction processes
  • Design team reports directly to the owner
  • Everyone knows the process and roles better defined which may be easier for inexperienced owners

Disadvantages of Design Bid Build

However, there are also some potential disadvantages to design bid build construction, such as: 

  • More opportunities for miscommunication and disagreements between teams
  • Takes more time overall from start to finish
  • Higher risk for coordination problems and delays
  • The lowest price may not offer the best value
  • Can be more expensive if the bids come in higher than expected

What to Consider When Choosing One of These Delivery Methods

It is important to consider a few key factors when deciding between these two delivery methods. 

Project Complexity

If the project is relatively simple, then design-bid-build may be the best option. This is because it can often be completed faster and with less risk. However, if the project is more complex, then design build may be a better option. 


If the project needs to be completed quickly, then design-build may be the best option. This is because the design and construction phases can often be completed concurrently, which can save time. However, if there is more time available, then design-bid-build may be a better option.

Desired Owner Involvement

If the owner wants to be more involved in the project, then design-bid-build may be the best option. This is because the owner can choose the design team and construction contractor separately. 

Level of Risk

If the project is relatively low risk, then either delivery method may be a good option. However, if the project is high risk, then design build may be a better option. This is because the design-build contractor is typically responsible for both the design and construction of the project, which can actually minimize the risks of unexpected costs and delays. 

Ganneston Construction: Providing Design Build and Design-Bid-Build Services for Your Building Projects

At Ganneston Construction, we provide both design build and design-bid-build services for our clients, as well as many other general contracting services. We understand that each project is unique and that there are pros and cons to each delivery method. We will work with you to determine the best delivery method for your specific project needs.

How Can We Help Make Your Project A Success?