Design-Build VS. Design-Bid-Build: What Is The Difference

When embarking on a construction project, choosing the right project delivery method is crucial. Two common methods are design-build and design-bid-build. Each approach offers unique advantages and challenges. Picking the right one can significantly impact the project’s timeline, budget, and overall success.

In the design-build method, one entity handles both the design and construction phases. This method aims to streamline the process by promoting collaboration and reducing the chances of miscommunication. Design-bid-build, on the other hand, separates the design and construction tasks. One team designs the project, and another team bids to build it. This traditional method has been used for many years and can offer clear roles for each party.

Understanding the differences between these two methods is essential for anyone involved in construction. By evaluating the pros and cons of each, you can make a more informed decision. This article will explore what makes design-build distinct from design-bid-build, the benefits of each approach, and which one might be better suited for various types of projects.

What is Design-Build?

In the design-build method, a single entity often called the design-builder, handles both the design and construction phases of a project. This one-stop-shop approach simplifies many aspects of the Las Vegas construction and development process. With this method, the owner contracts with one company to provide both design and construction services. This eliminates the need to separately hire an architect and a contractor.

Design-build construction promotes collaboration between the design team and the construction team from the project’s inception. Because the designer and builder work together from the start, potential issues can be identified and resolved early. This leads to fewer changes during the construction phase and can result in a smoother overall process.

Communication is also streamlined in a design-build contract. Since only one entity is responsible for both design and construction, there is less room for miscommunication. This unified approach can save time and reduce the likelihood of errors.

Benefits of Design-Build

One of the main benefits of the design-build method is speed. By overlapping the design and construction phases, projects can be completed more quickly compared to traditional methods. This can be particularly useful for clients who need to meet tight deadlines. Faster completion also means less disruption for everyone involved.

Cost savings are another significant advantage. With a single entity responsible for the entire project, budget management becomes more straightforward. The design-build contractor can make cost-effective decisions early on, which can keep the project within budget. This method also reduces the risk of unexpected costs, as potential issues are identified and addressed early in the process.

The design-build approach often results in higher-quality projects. With the design and construction teams working collaboratively, there is a greater focus on meeting the owner’s needs and preferences. This collaborative effort can lead to innovative solutions that might not have been considered under a more segmented approach.

What is Design-Bid-Build?

The design-bid-build method is a traditional project delivery method where the design and construction phases are handled separately. Initially, a design team is hired to create the project’s plans and specifications. Once the design phase is complete, the project is put out to bid. Contractors then submit their proposals, and the owner selects one to complete the construction phase.

Understanding the Design-Bid-Build Process

  • Design: The design phase is the first step in the design-bid-build process. An architect or designer is hired to develop detailed plans for the project. This includes everything from initial sketches to final blueprints. During this phase, the design team works closely with the owner to ensure that their vision is accurately captured.
  • Bid: Once the design is finalized, the project moves to the bidding phase. Contractors are invited to submit proposals based on the completed design. This phase can be competitive, as multiple contractors may vie for the project. The owner reviews the bids and selects a contractor based on factors like cost, schedule of values, experience, and reputation.
  • Build: After selecting a contractor, the project enters the build phase. The contractor follows the detailed plans created during the design phase. This segmented approach creates a clear separation between the design and construction tasks. The contractor is responsible for completing the project as specified in the design documents.

Benefits of Design-Bid-Build

One of the main benefits of design-bid-build is the clear separation of roles. The designer and the contractor have distinct responsibilities, reducing potential conflicts of interest. This division can provide a sense of checks and balances, as each party independently works on different aspects of the project.

Another advantage is the competitive bidding process. By receiving multiple bids, the owner can select the most cost-effective option. This competition can lead to lower overall project costs. Additionally, the detailed design phase allows for comprehensive planning, reducing the likelihood of changes and delays during construction.

The design-bid-build method also offers flexibility in choosing specialized contractors. If a project has unique requirements, the owner can select a contractor with specific expertise to handle the build phase. This targeted approach helps ensure that the project’s specific needs are met effectively.

Design-Build vs. Design-Bid-Build

Choosing between design-build vs. design-bid-build depends on various factors, including project complexity, budget, and timeline. Understanding the differences is crucial for making the best decision for your construction project.

One major difference is the level of collaboration. In a design-build project, the design-builder handles both design and construction, promoting a collaborative environment. This can lead to fewer misunderstandings and more efficient problem-solving. Because the teams work together from the start, the project is typically completed faster, which is a significant advantage for time-sensitive projects.

On the other hand, design-bid-build keeps the design and construction phases separate. This separation can lead to a more structured and phased approach. The bidding process can be advantageous as it encourages competitive pricing, allowing owners to select the most cost-effective contractor. However, this method can result in longer project timelines compared to design-build.

Budget and Cost Control

Cost management also varies between the two methods. In a design-build contract, there is often more flexibility in managing costs since the same entity handles both the design and construction phases. Unexpected issues can be addressed promptly without going through a lengthy approval process. In contrast, design-bid-build has strict budget limitations defined in the bid phase, which can limit adaptability during the construction phase.

Lastly, the level of owner involvement differs. Design-build projects generally require less owner oversight, as one entity manages the entire project. This can be beneficial for owners who prefer a more hands-off approach. Design-bid-build projects may require the owner to be more actively involved, particularly during the transition from design to construction.


Design-build vs design bid build approaches each have unique advantages and are suitable for different types of projects. Design-build provides a streamlined, collaborative approach that often results in faster project completion and better cost management. It’s a preferred choice for projects where time is a critical factor.

Design-bid-build, with its clear separation of design and construction phases, allows for competitive bidding and provides a structured approach. This traditional method is ideal for projects where the owner wants more control over each phase and cost predictability.

Choosing the right project delivery method can make a significant difference in the success of your construction project. Design-build might be the best choice if you value speed, collaboration, and flexibility in cost management. This method is particularly effective for projects with tight timelines or complex requirements. Conversely, design-bid-build offers a structured process with competitive pricing, making it ideal for projects where budget control and phased execution are essential.

In construction and development projects, it is of crucial importance to understand the difference between hard costs vs soft costs. Moreover, understanding the differences between these two methods helps in making an informed decision that aligns with your project’s needs and goals. If you’re in Las Vegas and planning a construction project, WTD Development can help you navigate these choices. We offer expert guidance to ensure your project is completed efficiently and successfully.

Contact us today to discuss your project and discover how we can assist you in achieving your construction goals. Trust WTD Development for a seamless, stress-free construction experience tailored to meet your specific needs.