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Design/Build vs. traditional Design-Bid-Build…Which is for you?

| July 27, 2017, 04:28 PM

Surprisingly, the so-called “traditional” or “Design-Bid-Build” method of construction has been in use for only about 150 years. The “Design-Build” method or the “master builder” concept has been in use for thousands of years and is the preferred choice for more and more construction projects.

An architect designs a structure or addition in the Design-Bid-Build method and then the project goes out for competitive bids. In the Design-Build method, the design/builder, performs both design and construction under a single contract.

There are numerous advantages to using Design-Build vs. Design-Bid-Build. According to the Design-Build Institute of America, the design-build method streamlines project delivery via a single contract and fosters collaboration and teamwork. An integrated team works to complete a project faster and more cost effectively.   Although there may be lower transparency in bidding, vendors and subcontractors will not be chosen based on submitting the lowest bid (may translate to lowest quality), as is often the case in Design-Bid-Build. Change orders (which result in cost increases) are much less likely in the Design-Build process, as the builder and designer are often the same.

Another advantage is there are no unclear specifications to halt construction. Experienced builders have “seen it all” and tend to know what will work from a more practical standpoint.

According to Brent Paquin, President and CEO, Paquin Design Build, “the Design-Build firm is responsible for the entire project from initial design/conception, obtaining permits, and continuing through all of the details”.

Unlike the traditional construction method, design-build allows owners to deal with a single party rather than trying to balance multiple companies and keep track of who is responsible for what. The design-build firm is the “go to” entity, your single point of contact.

Before choosing a design-build firm, you should meet with several companies to find the fit that’s right for you. Are their designs all ultra-contemporary when you’re looking for a more traditional feel? Do they have experience with your particular scenario? Do they make you feel welcome? Is there any undue pressure? Do they make the process transparent?

Although the design-build project delivery method is based on collaboration and trust, you should retain the right to purchase the plans. What is the “exit plan,” should you find the final price too high or encounter timing issues, etc.? Before entering into any contract, you should check references, visit completed projects, and be up front about your budget to make sure it is realistic.

Brent Paquin reiterated the above, stating, “Although everyone begins the process with the very best of intentions, occasionally the parties agree to part ways. Be sure to have all possible scenarios clearly outlined in any contract you sign”.

Once you choose your design-build firm, work will begin on your plans. Plans and specifications should be detailed, so you know exactly what your costs will be.

Brent Paquin concluded with, “The firm you choose should be full-service and offer not only design of your project, but also interior design, construction oversight, and budget monitoring. And, don’t forget waterfront homes, landscaping and dock installations!”

To learn more visit

Severn Bank

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About the Author - Bonnie Aubin, GRI

Bonnie Aubin, GRI Realtor®, is a full-time, full-service professional real estate agent. She specializes in Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, and Howard County. She brings her business experience, integrity, motivation, and excellent communication skills to the real estate profession where she has been serving her clients for 15 years. Bonnie has raised her level of professionalism by achieving the Graduate Realtor Institute designation (GRI). To learn more about Bonnie:

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