Skip to main content

James E. Warner, PE is a Principal and the Director of Operations for the Houston office.

Over the past 30 years, several different project delivery methods have been incorporated into the industry in an effort to improve the overall project schedule, minimize the construction budget, or reduce the potential for contractor issued change orders. These delivery methods include:

  • The traditional Design/Bid/Build method
  • Construction Manager at Risk method
  • Design/Build method

A new delivery method was explored and implemented on a project in Texas. The Owner and general contractor referred to this method as Build/Design. The Build/Design method utilizes a pyramid decision process that allows the design to proceed while the programming details are being refined. The priority of this delivery method is to reduce the project schedule and provide the Owner the opportunity for occupying the project earlier. This process appears similar to the Design/Build delivery method, but the difference is realized in the timing of the Owner decisions. The Owner continues to review the programming well into the construction phase of the project. Changes to the programming are made that result in rework for the design professional which is considered part of the original scope of services. An additional design service is not entertained by the Owner. The decision process proceeds on a less traditional pattern to support the construction sequence as follows:

  • Preliminary site planning to determine the available building footprint
  • Structural framing for both the gravity and lateral load resisting systems
  • Architectural façade
  • Internal programming and operation
  • Mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection design
  • Development of civil drawings

As in every project delivery method, there are negative aspects and benefits when utilizing the Build/Design method of delivery. The negative aspects are mainly concentrated to the design team while the benefits are realized by the general contractor and Owner.

The negative aspects of the Build/Design delivery method can be significant, or they can be minimal. The exposure is dependent on the design professional for each discipline and the cohesive effort of the design team. The design team must develop reasonable concepts to which there is an elevated confidence that the system will comply with the Owner’s expectation. The design criteria must support these concepts while allowing flexibility for the programming decisions made during the development of the project documents. The appropriate concepts and criteria will reduce the potential design rework and reduce the negative aspects experienced by the design team. Due to the potential risk for design rework, the professional service fees are typically higher which is a negative aspect for the Owner.

There are benefits.  The design process begins and follows the standard progression that is expected in any of the delivery methods noted above. The Build/Design delivery method differentiates from the other delivery methods when it comes to the time input is required from the Owner. The design does not come to a halt while the Owner determines how to proceed but continues by incorporating educated assumptions that consider the Owner’s options. This process allows for a reduced design schedule which may result in a cost savings when considering the projected construction material escalation costs and will allow the Owner to occupy the building on an earlier date.

Walker Parking Consultants utilized this delivery method on a 1,600 space parking garage which was designed, built, and occupied in approximately 10 months. Contact me if there are any questions regarding the Build/Design delivery method.