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Design and build

The design and build procurement route gives a single point of responsibility for delivering the entire project.

The client appoints a contractor who’s responsible for the design, planning, organisation, control and construction of the works to the client’s specification or requirement. A procurement route where one contractor is appointed to design and construct the entire project can help ensure good buildability, cost control and speed. However, it may be more appropriate for simple projects, where design quality is not the main focus.

In the design and build procurement approach, the client can adopt one of two processes:

  • Appoint the contractor to carry out all of the design work
  • Decide to have greater influence over the design by first appointing a consultant to prepare a concept design and outline specification, and then appointing the contractor to complete the design and carry out the construction

The second option is particularly appropriate:

  • Where there is a need to make an early start on site
  • Where design and construction can overlap for technically complex projects, which can benefit from the contractor’s expertise
  • Where the employer does not want to retain full control over the design development
  • Where the client wishes to minimise their risk, as there is no responsibility for design

The advantages of design and build are:

  • An early price certainty
  • Early communication on-site
  • A single point of responsibility for design and construction

The disadvantages are:

  • Making variations from the original brief can be expensive and difficult to arrange
  • The client may find it hard to prepare a sufficiently comprehensive brief

Your task

In your area of practice, identify a project in the UK for which you think the design and build procurement method was used. Justify why you think this procurement route was used.

Share your example with other learners.

Further reading

If you’d like to know more about the design and build procurement route, you might want to read:

Boudjabeur, S (1997) ‘Design and Build Defined’. In Stephenson, P (Ed.), 13th Annual ARCOM Conference, 15-17 September 1997, King’s College, Cambridge. Association of Researchers in Construction Management, Vol. 1, 72-82

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This article is from the free online course:

Contract Management and Procurement: An Introduction

Coventry University