March 1, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About the Design-Build Method

low angle photography of high rise building

Before moving forward with your commercial construction project, you’ll want to consider the various types and methods of construction. You can explore different partnerships, each with unique roles and responsibilities, benefits, and processes that meet your project’s objectives. For example, you might already be familiar with the design bid process, where different professionals assume independent responsibilities with your project. Another streamlined option is the design-build method. If you’re not as familiar with how the design-build process works, keep reading. Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about the design-build method to help inform your commercial construction project decisions.

What Is the Design-Build Method?

So, what is the design-build method? When you adopt this process for your commercial construction project, you can expect one entity, namely, your design-build team, to facilitate every design and build-related effort with your project. This one primary team works with you, overseeing everything relating to design and construction. It’s a more streamlined approach to a newly built project, where you collaborate with one team instead of several independent teams.

Generally, the design-build process is categorized into five steps. When you work with a design-build team, these are the phases you can expect.

Team Selection

As the project owner, you’ll want to carefully vet a design-build team with experience in facilitating these types of projects. Be mindful not to base your partnership decisions entirely on project costs. And look to bring in a design-build firm with a proven track record of successful design-build projects and quality results.

Project Planning

Pre-construction is a short phase, yet essential. Here, you’ll work with the design-build team to share your project’s goals, budget, challenges, and vision. Architects, Construction Manager/General Contractor, consultants, and engineers are assembled to begin assessing the project objectives. Expect thorough analysis and constructability discussion during this planning phase.


Once the budget, location, and timeline are identified, your design-build team will begin the architectural design process. The design-build team will help you identify areas of optimization and cost savings. Here, you’ll review preliminary drawings and estimates. And because the designer and contractor are already working together, preliminary costs are gathered to ensure the design fits within the intended budget as the design progresses. By doing so, your project can move from here directly to construction.


There may be some overlap between the pre-construction and construction phases with the design-build method. Moreover, construction moves seamlessly with the streamlined oversight and communication of the single-source project team. Issues are quickly resolved, and with everyone on the same page during the design, change orders are often minimal, if they exist at all.

Post Construction

Once your Lehigh Valley project is complete, your design-build team will share an overview of finalized deliverables. This phase, much like the others, is also streamlined with one overarching team involved. In many cases, your team can also provide you with documentation, training, and O&M (Owner’s Maintenance Guide) materials as needed. 

What are the responsibilities of a design-build firm?

When you choose a design-build firm, you want to select a reputable team that can oversee and manage every phase of your project. From inception through to completion, the firm you work with will bring in every architect, engineer, and contractor needed for the job. Each role is facilitated through one contract partnership.

Three main types of design-build project delivery.

With today’s modern commercial construction projects, there are three primary construction methods to consider.

  • Design-Build (DB)
  • Design-Bid-Build (DBB)
  • Construction Management at Risk (CMAR)

According to recent stats, the design-build method is, on average,13% faster than CMAR and 36% faster than DBB in terms of construction speed. 

Design-Build vs. Design-Bid-Build

The alternative to the design-build approach is the design-bid-build method. While the design-build method brings all the work under one contract, where the contractor involved in the design is the contractor that builds the project, the design-bid-build method involves competitively bidding the project to multiple CM/GCs. 

Consider the differences between DBB (Design-Bid-Build) and CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk). DBB involves a sequential process where the project owner first contracts with a design team to create the project plans and specifications. Subsequently, these plans are put out to bid, and construction firms compete to secure the contract based on the provided design documents. In contrast, CMAR involves the appointment of a construction manager during the design phase. 

This allows for the construction manager’s input during the design process to enhance constructability, cost estimation, and scheduling. CMAR assumes a degree of risk for the construction process, often through a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) contract, aligning the incentives of the owner and the construction manager. Both DBB and CMAR have distinct advantages and considerations, depending on the project’s scope, timeline, and desired level of collaboration between design and construction teams.

The major advantage of design-build versus design-bid-build is the extensive collaboration and familiarity of the complete project, maintaining the same team throughout. Project owners can expect to save both time and money when one collaborative team works to task and execute each commercial construction project phase. 

The design-build method is an appealing option and a flexible solution for all types of commercial construction projects. 

  • Schools and Universities
  • Faith-Based Organizations and Worship Centers
  • Healthcare Facilities and Private Practice Offices
  • Offices and Businesses of All Natures
  • Retail Spaces and Shops
  • Restaurants and Dining
  • Specialty Building Projects

Benefits of a Design-Build Construction Process

There are several reasons why today’s commercial construction project managers turn to the design-build method for their building projects. Project owners can minimize their project risks, reduce spending, and fast-track project delivery. Additionally, these advantages make design-build a wildly popular method for today’s commercial construction projects:

  • All parties under one contract are required to work in unison.
  • Uncertainty and mistakes are limited.
  • Project completion time can be vastly reduced, speeding up the processes.
  • The one-team approach eliminates potential conflicts between contractors.
  • Communication is streamlined with one point of contact for more efficiency.
  • Contractor, architect, engineer, and subcontractor relationships are hassle-free.
  • Design-build architectural costs can be lower than design-bid-build project costs.
  • Bidding processes are removed, making the process more efficient.

Trust Jerdon Construction As Your Design-Build Partner

In the Lehigh Valley, there’s one commercial construction team to trust with any design-build project – Jerdon Construction. We have decades of experience bringing beautiful commercial projects to life using the design-build method. Explore some of our past design-build projects and see why so many trust our team with their commercial construction vision.

Whitehall Door

This retail design-build project involved the demolition of an existing structure and then the building of a 12,000-square-foot facility within five months. The building brought to life a spacious showroom, offices, and warehouse. The project included a wood-framed structure, exterior metal siding, a standing seam roof, stone veneer, and custom windows. 

Gerber Collision & Glass

This new facility created an 11,000-square-foot auto body shop and an additional 2,000 square feet of finished office spaces on an undeveloped lot. Included was an innovative canopy for customers to drop off and pick up their vehicles.

New Tripoli Fire Company

The New Tripoli Fire Company trusted our design-build team to help bring an additional engine room, staging areas, offices, decontamination areas, and locker rooms to reality. This project included pre-engineered metal building structures with wall panels and all required HVAC, plumbing, and electrical site work.

Bethany Wesleyan Church Multi-Ministry Center

We routinely work with faith-based organizations as we did with Bethany Wesleyan Church and its design-build multi-ministry center. Our team value-engineered this project and produced a sophisticated 1,200-seat auditorium, complete with comprehensive AV and lighting. Other amenities included a welcoming foyer, chapel, green room, and cafe.

When frequent collaboration, streamlined project timelines, and cost-efficient processes matter, let Jerdon Construction be your guide. Contact our design-build team today to discuss your upcoming commercial construction projects!