BCI News

Design-Build and General Contractors: What’s the Difference?

Jul 17, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Some Clients approach a project and often don’t understand the difference between construction roles and delivery methods. At BCI, we can complete projects in many roles: Design-Build Contractor, Construction Manager, Construction Manager at Risk, General Contractors, or as a sub-contractor or consultant role in an array of specialties. We can tackle projects ranging from simple one-off construction tasks to the full planning and execution processes.

Two of the most dominant methods of construction are general contractor and design-build. Let’s take a look at how these two roles differ and how they are alike to help you decide which is the best option for your next construction project. 

The Basics of General Contracting

When you think of traditional project deliveries in construction projects, you are probably thinking of general contracting. The design for the project is completed and the contractor builds it at a set price. These are traditionally done in formal processed organizations and are often competitive, but require a lot of front-end time, communications, and resources. The formal name of the process is called design-bid-build (where projects are first designed, then bid, then built). The first step in the process is the owner contracts a separate project designer/design team, primarily led by an architect. 

Often, the project is bid out to multiple contractors. This is formally used in the public processes (K-12, Civic, Park, etc.) where the owner of the project is seeking the lowest qualified bid. The builder and the designer have no contractual relationship, other than the connection through the project’s owner.

The Design-Build Process

The design-build process changes the approach. The owner starts with the contractor for one of many reasons, including costs, timing, quality, construction type, or even relationships. This negotiated process places the contractor in charge of the design process giving them the authority to make architectural and engineer decisions. This process often provides the owner and the design-builder with cost-effective approaches, more autonomy in decisions, and more precise results.

Once hired, the design-build contractor is responsible for the rest of the staff and crew on the construction project from inception to completion. The contractor is responsible for hiring designers, construction crews, subcontractors, or vendors they may need to complete the project. Communication between managers, vendors, or subcontractors and the client all go through the contractor. Collaboration, good communication, and effective processes are pivotal to success.

A design-build contractor will do everything a general contractor does after the design is complete, but they play a larger role in the results. They are also involved in creating the details of the project in hopes that fewer errors in the planning and construction process occur. 

Deciding which process to choose largely depends on the project itself. Not sure which route to take? BCI Construction specializes in many roles in the construction process. If you need something built, remodeled, updated, or designed, we can help. Contact BCI Construction to learn more.

Ready to build your tomorrow?