Design-Build vs. The Traditional Bidding Process: Which is the Right Choice for Your Next Build?

You’re embarking on a home renovation. We’re talking bumping out the entire back of the house, transforming the first floor to an open kitchen and living situation, with a master suite on the second floor overlooking the pool and putting green below. It’s going to be amazing.

Do you want to trust this special job to the lowest bidder who fits your budget? Or would you like to hand off all the day-to-day decisions and dramas to someone else, whiling away the renovation time comfortably ensconced in a nearby hotel room? It’s a big decision to make, so we like our clients to have all the information they need to make the right one.

At Seacoast Construction, our goal is to provide seamless, unsurpassed service from the design process through the build and to the completed project. Our wide range of clients have varying needs, ranging from pre-construction coordination, general contracting, and owner representation. They also have questions about the process and the different approaches to their construction projects.

One recurring topic is the comparison between a traditional bidding process, also known as Design-Bid-Build, and Design-Build.

First, let’s define the two:

The traditional bidding process (Design-Bid-Build) is based on a design team working directly for the property owner to produce a set of construction documents. These plans are then used in the resultant competitive bidding process and the selection of the winning team of contractors. Basically, the lowest bid wins.

Design-Build is an approach where property owners choose a single point of responsibility – usually, the general contractor – for the entire construction process. Consider the contractor the middle-man between the owner/client, the architect and design team, and the subcontractors. Basically, your general contractor handles all the headaches.

Benefits and Risks:

In theory, a lot of clients prefer the traditional Design-Bid-Build method. Why? They usually feel relieved that they’ve chosen the least expensive option. Even better, they’re usually the primary point of decision-making along the way, as all entities with their distinct roles and responsibilities report to the owner. If I’m involved in every step, the thought goes, then nothing will go wrong.

Sound too good to be true? It probably is.

One of the risks involved with the Design-Bid-Build plan is that the lowest bid may be dangerously misleading, as that proposed low bid is normally based on lower-priced, low-end materials and labor, and doesn’t include the unavoidable obstacles that always occur in a build.

The benefit of the Design-Build approach is that it doesn’t require an owner to be hands-on throughout the process. Once the design is approved, the owner should feel at ease knowing their chosen general contractor or owner representative will take control and achieve the desired build.

Clearly, a lot depends on the quality of the contractor chosen. Additionally, the lack of competitive bidding as in the traditional bidding process often leads to higher prices.

Here’s how we can help:

Our team at Seacoast Construction acts as a general contractor or owner’s representative depending on the owner’s needs, and also provides our clients with a select group of pre-qualified sub-contractors for the bidding process. By using Seacoast Construction as a trusted liaison and vetting agent, the owner in a Design-Bid-Build situation is better protected knowing that the bid is reflective of their original design vision.

It’s true that the prime benefit of the Design-Build approach is that it doesn’t require an owner to be hands-on throughout the process. But this absence of communication between work teams and the owner can result in a lower quality end product.

Again, our professionals at Seacoast Construction protects the owner – you. We act as the owner’s representative and maintain the design team’s vision, ensuring that all sub-contractors adhere to the plan.

No matter what approach you choose, rest assured that Seacoast Construction will represent you and make sure your design turns out perfectly, according to plan.

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