Design and Build Approach vs. Traditional Procurement Route

/ Design and Build vs. Traditional Procurement

Design and Build vs. Traditional Procurement

Dr. Greg Dooley - Design and Build Specialist

Dr Greg Dooley

Digital Marketing Manager

Content Specialist in Office Design & Build

A crucial decision when relocating to a new office, or refurbishing an existing one, is selecting the appropriate procurement method. This choice can significantly impact the project’s overall cost, duration, and quality. With various routes available, the dilemma often boils down to two primary contenders: Design & Build (D&B) and the Traditional Route. Each method carries its own set of advantages and potential pitfalls, making the decision far from straightforward.

This article looks at the differences between these two office fit out methodologies and the distinct benefits they offer. By providing a clear and comprehensive comparison, we aim to equip companies with the knowledge necessary to make informed choices that align with their specific project requirements and strategic objectives.

Design and Build vs. Traditional Procurement Route
Design and Build Method vs. Traditional Procurement

What is Traditional Procurement?

Traditional procurement, often referred to as the Design-Bid-Build method, is a time-honoured approach in the construction industry. It’s characterised by a linear process where each stage of the project is handled sequentially. The cornerstone of traditional procurement lies in its separation of design and construction responsibilities, typically involving multiple consultants and contractors.

The Three Stages: Design, Bid, and Build

The traditional method is divided into three distinct stages:

  1. Design: The initial phase involves appointing an architectural practice or design consultancy. During this stage, the client works closely with the designers to develop detailed plans and specifications for the construction project.
  2. Bid: Once the design documents are complete, the project is put out to tender. Contractors bid on the project, and the client selects a contractor based typically on various factors, including cost, experience, and proposed timeline.
  3. Build: The final stage is the construction phase, where the selected contractor brings the design to life. This phase continues until the project’s completion and handover to the client.

Roles and Client Involvement

In traditional procurement, the client’s role is paramount. They are actively involved in selecting and managing separate entities, including the architect, interior designer, project manager, cost consultant, mechanical and electrical consultant, IT consultant, furniture specialist, and various other specialists required for the project. This approach allows the client to retain significant control over the design and budget parameters but also necessitates a greater investment of time and resources to manage and coordinate between the different parties.

The traditional method’s compartmentalised nature often leads to a clear demarcation of roles and responsibilities. However, it also requires the client to act as the central point of communication and decision-making, which can sometimes lead to inefficiencies and increased potential for miscommunication between disparate teams.

In short, traditional procurement offers clients a high degree of control and involvement but demands a substantial commitment in terms of time and management resources. It’s a well-established method that has stood the test of time, however, it may not always be the most efficient or cost-effective approach for every construction project.

The Design and Build Approach

The Design & Build Approach

The Design & Build (D&B) method represents a more modern approach to an office fit out procurement. Unlike the traditional route, D&B consolidates the design and construction phases under a single entity. This integrated approach streamlines the process, fostering collaboration and innovation from the project’s inception to its completion.

Definition of Design & Build

Design & Build is a procurement method where one entity, the D&B contractor, is responsible for both the design and construction of a project. This unified approach means that the client deals with a single point of contact for all aspects of the construction process, simplifying communication and decision-making.

A Turnkey Solution

D&B is often referred to as a turnkey solution because it delivers a fully completed project ready for immediate use. By combining design, specification, consultancy, project management, and construction services under one roof, D&B contractors can offer a comprehensive package. This integration allows for a more seamless transition between each phase of the project, reducing delays and potential conflicts that might arise in a traditional setup.

The D&B approach also allows for concurrent design and construction activities, which can significantly accelerate the project timeline. This overlap can lead to earlier project completion and potentially lower costs due to the efficiencies gained through integrated project delivery.

Benefits of the D&B Approach

The Design & Build method has gained traction across sectors like commercial office fit outs, residential developments, and public infrastructure projects. Its rising popularity is largely attributed to its ability to deliver projects faster, with more cost certainty, and often with higher levels of innovation.

Clients are increasingly drawn to the D&B approach for its streamlined communication channels, reduced administrative burden, and the single point of accountability it offers. By entrusting the entire project to a D&B contractor, clients can benefit from a more cohesive and collaborative process, leading to efficient project delivery and often, superior results.

Some of the benefits of the Design and Build (D&B) approach over traditional procurement in the context of office design and build include the following:

  1. Single Point of Responsibility: D&B provides a single entity responsible for both the design and construction of the project, simplifying communication and accountability.
  2. Less Stress and Involvement in Management: Clients may prefer D&B if they wish to reduce their own time investment and resources in managing multiple contracts and coordination between different parties.
  3. Time Efficiency: D&B allows for concurrent design and construction activities, which can overlap and thus accelerate the project timeline, leading to earlier completion.
  4. Cost Certainty: With D&B, the construction cost is often fixed at the initial design phase, providing more certainty and reducing the risk of cost overruns.
  5. Streamlined Communication: The integrated approach of D&B reduces the administrative burden and streamlines communication, as the client has only one point of contact.
  6. Reduced Risk: The D&B approach can diminish risk and liability for the client, as there is one unified team responsible for the project delivery.
  7. A Collaborative Process: D&B fosters a more collaborative environment between the design and construction teams, which can lead to more innovative solutions and efficient project delivery.
  8. Flexible and Agile: D&B can be more agile and responsive to client-side variations, allowing for quick amendments as the project evolves.
  9. Value Engineering (if required): In a D&B setup, value engineering occurs at the outset, enabling cost savings and efficient use of resources from the beginning of the project.
  10. Quality Control: Having a single team from start to finish can ensure a consistent quality standard throughout all phases of the project.
  11. A Turnkey Solution: The D&B method delivers a fully completed project ready for immediate use, which can be advantageous for clients looking for a quick and efficient handover.
  12. Suitability for Most Projects: D&B can be particularly beneficial for most office fit out projects where speed, cost certainty, and a single point of responsibility are highly valued.

Choosing Between D&B and Traditional Procurement

The choice between Traditional Procurement and Design and build (D&B) methods is a pivotal decision that can influence the course of a project. To aid in this decision-making process, we’ve prepared a comparative table that succinctly outlines the defining characteristics, processes, and outcomes associated with each approach.

The table below presents a side-by-side comparison, covering various aspects including their definitions, process flow, cost implications, control dynamics, timeframes, risk factors, design capabilities, communication channels, quality benchmarks, value engineering opportunities, flexibility, suitability for different project types, and their popularity in the industry.

This comparative overview serves as a guide to understanding the fundamental differences between Traditional Procurement and Design and build, helping you weigh the pros and cons of each method in relation to your project’s specific needs and goals.

Design & Build vs. Traditional Procurement
Traditional Procurement Design & Build
Process Involves three stages: design, bid, and build. Offers a turnkey solution with services under one roof.
CostConstruction costs are initially unknown; cost certainty is achieved later. Construction cost is agreed and fixed from the initial design phase.
ControlThe owner retains control over design and construction.Requires less owner expertise and resources.
TimeDesign and construction are sequential, resulting in longer schedules. Construction can overlap design completion, reducing the project schedule.
RiskThe client retains the risk of consultant/contractor non-performance. Diminished risk and liability with a single, unified team.
DesignEquivalent capabilities. Equivalent capabilities.
CommunicationThe owner acts as the arbiter for design and construction issues. Single point of contact throughout the project.
QualityEquivalent capabilitiesEquivalent capabilities
Value Engineering Occurs when the contractor is awarded. Occurs at the outset of the project.
FlexibilityVery contractual with limited flexibility for client-side variations.Agile and quick to amend client-side variations.
Suitability Larger, specialist projects where the owner can manage the process.Projects where speed, cost certainty, and a single point of responsibility are valued.
PopularityTraditional and well-established.Well-established and Increasingly popular, especially for office fit outs and refurbishments.
Team D&B or Team Trad

Should I go D&B or Traditional Route?

Mike Walley, a seasoned Workplace Strategist & Real Estate Expert, draws on his 25-years experience working with both Design and Build (D&B) firms and Traditional (Trad) procurement methods. Here's his article which unpacks the intricacies and challenges of each approach.