“Whether or not the Design-Bid-Build project delivery method will be a appropriate fit for the client’s development project will come down to the fundamental consideration of uncertainty and the client’s comfort level towards it. ” – Archifiller™

A Traditional Route

The Design-Bid-Build method – also referred to as the traditional consultant / contractor engagement method – is a project delivery process where the client establishes a briefing document for their property or land from the outset that satisfies their project development needs. From here, they engage in other interested parties that can help them deliver on their objectives, namely architects and builders.

The Design-Bid-Build method is a traditional approach to project delivery since it has been tried and tested since the beginning of the building industry, employed with standalone private homes for owner-occupiers right through to small-to-medium commercial and industrial build briefs that are geared towards leasing.

Design-Bid-Build Project Delivery Method
The Design-Bid-Build project delivery method

As the name suggests, the process is a sequential one where stages are generally completed one stage at a time. These three primary constituents that makeup the Design-Bid-Build method can be detailed further with the following:

  • Design: The design stage, that encompasses a number of professional designers that provide input in order to deliver on the specific project’s objectives and meet regulatory requirements, with the architect being the primary consultant who co-ordinates them all. Since every client’s brief and project is unique, the team of consultants engaged can greatly vary during this stage.
  • Bid: The contractor acquisition stage, where documentation that was produced at the design stage is employed by builders to provide accurate proposal estimates to complete and deliver on the specific work. This gives the client competitive costing in the market and informs their considerations before settling on a single construction company.
  • Build: The settlement stage, where a contractor is chosen once analysis of the bidder’s proposals has ended, allowing construction of the project to commence as per the agreed terms and conditions.

How a Design-Bid-Build Network Works

There are two primary contractual lines that exist within a Design-Bid-Build project delivery model. These are:

  • An agreement for architect services between the architect and the client; and
  • An agreement for construction services between the main contractor and the client.

These contractual lines define the legal commitments that both parties owe to each other under contract. For instance, an agreement for architect’s services could include specific deliverables that the architect must furnish within a reasonable time for a reasonable price to the client, who must uphold on their end regular monthly payments to the architect while they are completing their agreed specific deliverables.

In terms of communication lines, these are identical to the contractual lines, where the client has a direct exchange between both the architect and the main contractor. The architect and the main contractor also have a direct communication line, however, they do not enter into a formal binding agreement with one another.

As demonstrated in the diagram above, there are other parties that are involved in the Design-Bid-Build project delivery network that help the primary contractual parties meet their deliverables, such as consultants and subcontractors. These parties and their contractual and communication lines will be explored in more detail via future editorials.

Final Note

Whether or not the Design-Bid-Build project delivery method will be a appropriate fit for the client’s development project will come down to the fundamental consideration of uncertainty and the client’s comfort level towards it. This means that the client needs to clearly understand the risks associated with any project delivery method in order to effectively manage themselves and own any problems that occur along the project’s trajectory. Furthermore, a repeat client who has experience with common risks will be better placed than someone who is engaging in their first development project.

Some of the key risk areas that clients need to consider before committing to one project delivery method are the following:

  • Project type
  • Project scale
  • Development site
  • Consultant team engaged
  • Programme
  • Design complexity, and
  • Construction methodologies.

So, like most things in our industry, there are always options available and the same holds true for project procurement. With the aforementioned risk areas in mind, it is the project manager’s job – whether this is the architect or a separate consultant such as a project manager – to help the client navigate the options available to them and understand why one method may be more advantageous than another. We are the experts after all.

Written by Thomas Denhardt – Founder and Creative Director of Archifiller™


  1. What is the Design-Bid-Build project delivery method?
  2. What are the two primary contractual lines that exist within a DBB network?
  3. What are some key risk areas that a client needs to consider before committing to any project delivery method?

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