Why Design-Build for Commercial Developments is Taking the Place of Traditional Construction

Embarking on a new commercial development project involves making crucial choices, including selecting the construction method that best aligns with your objectives. Two prominent alternatives are traditional construction and the design-build approach, each offering its own set of pros and cons. This article offers a comparison between traditional construction and design-build for commercial developments, assisting you in making an educated decision for your next endeavor.

Photo of a commercial building
Design-build for commercial developments is an up-and-coming trend in construction. | Photo by Kaique Rocha

Traditional Construction: The Standard Route

Frequently called the design-bid-build method, traditional construction follows a step-by-step process of splitting the project into separate phases: design, bidding, and construction. During the design phase, architects and engineers develop comprehensive plans before the project is open for bids from contractors. Upon choosing a contractor, construction commences based on the finalized designs.

Although this approach has been prevalent for many years, it presents certain obstacles. The sequential manner of the process can extend project timelines since delays in the architecture services phase directly impact construction schedules. Furthermore, minimal direct collaboration between design and construction teams may lead to communication gaps and potential disputes. Rigid processes can also contribute to budget overruns and change orders.

Design-Build: Integration and Efficiency

In contrast, the design-build approach is characterized by its collaborative and integrated nature. Under this method, a single entity, known as the design-build team, is responsible for both the design and construction phases. This integrated approach encourages open communication and cooperation between architects, engineers, and contractors from the outset of the project.

One of the standout advantages of design-build construction is its potential for streamlined timelines. The collaborative nature of the process allows for concurrent design and construction activities, resulting in quicker project completion. Additionally, the design-build model inherently promotes cost control, as the team works together to align design choices with budget constraints, reducing the likelihood of costly change orders.

Key Comparative Factors

In contrast to traditional construction methods, which often involve multiple stakeholders and parties that can lead to potential communication breakdowns, design-build fosters a culture of collaboration and communication among all team members, resulting in a more cohesive and aligned project. The parallel nature of design and construction activities in design-build projects tends to deliver shorter timelines compared to the sequential approach of traditional construction, which is prone to longer construction phases. Moreover, design-build projects enjoy the advantage of integrated budget management, as the design and construction teams collaborate closely to ensure budget adherence, while traditional construction methods can be plagued by unexpected cost overruns and change orders.

In matters of responsibility and accountability, assigning blame for design issues and construction problems in a traditional construction environment can be challenging due to the separation of design and construction teams; however, design-build offers a clear point of accountability as the same entity handles both aspects. Finally, design-build demonstrates exceptional flexibility and adaptability when it comes to addressing changes and unexpected challenges – an area where traditional construction might struggle once the design phase is finalized.

Choosing the Right Path

The choice between traditional construction and design-build hinges on the project’s specific requirements and priorities. If a project demands a structured, well-defined plan and has a longer timeline, traditional construction might suit the needs. However, if efficiency, collaboration, and adaptability are paramount, design-build emerges as a compelling option.

In conclusion, the decision between traditional construction and design-build for commercial developments is not one-size-fits-all. Each method has its merits, and the right choice depends on factors such as project scope, timeline, budget, and desired level of collaboration. As the construction industry continues to evolve, design-build has gained traction for its ability to deliver projects efficiently, on budget, and with a heightened focus on collaboration – ultimately resulting in successful and satisfying commercial developments.

Tre Pryor, Realtor

Tre Pryor is the leading real estate expert in the city of Louisville. He is a multi-million dollar producer and consistently ranks in the top 1% of Louisville Realtors for homes sold. Tre Pryor has the highest possible rating—5.0 stars on Google—by his clients and is routinely interviewed by the local NBC news. Tre Pryor is a member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame.