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Design Build

Design-Build is a Project Delivery System in which the design and construction services are contracted by a single entity known as the design-builder or design-build contractor. In contrast to "design-bid-build" (or "design-tender") where an architect is hired separately and often provides incomplete or ambiguous plans and specifications to the general contractor (who is also hired separately), design-build relies on a single point of responsibility and is used to minimize risks for the project owner and reduce the delivery schedule by overlapping the design phase and construction phase of a project.

Above: Design Build project, New Aiyansh Administration Building


In the Design-Build contract the construction team is known as the design-builder.  They are responsible for taking a concept developed by the owner, completing the detailed design, and then pending owner’s approval on the design, proceed with the construction.

The traditional approach for construction projects consists of the appointment of a designer on one side, and the appointment of a contractor on the other.  The design-build procurement route changes the traditional sequence of work. It addresses the clients concerns and aspirations for a single-point of responsibility in an attempt to reduce risks and overall costs. It is now commonly used in Canada because it is a win-win situation for all parties involved in a Contract.

The Design-Build Advantage:


Faster Delivery — collaborative project management means work is completed faster with fewer problems.

Cost Savings — an integrated team is geared toward efficiency and innovation.

Better Quality — design-builders meet performance needs, not minimum design requirements, often developing innovations to deliver a better project than initially imagined.

Singular Responsibility — one entity is held accountable for cost, schedule and performance.

Decreased Administrative Burden — owners can focus on the project rather than managing disparate contracts.

Reduced Risk — the design-build team assumes additional risk.


Design-Build is sometimes compared to the "master builder" approach, one of the oldest forms of construction procedures. Comparing design-build to the traditional method of procurement, the authors of "Design-Build Contracting Handbook" noted that:

“ from a historical perspective the so-called traditional approach is actually a very recent concept, only being in use approximately 150 years. In contrast, the design-build concept - also known as the "master builder" concept - has been reported as being in use for over four millennia."

PVL has been the General Contractor on many projects over the last 13 years where I was the Architect including a Gold LEED project for BC Housing. Their ability demonstrated during construction showed that they have the experience and background to execute complicated design and detail with excellent results.

Dan Condon,
Architect, MAIBC