Why Should Your Construction Project be Design-Build?



Category:   -  Published by: Slobodan Kukic

There comes a time for every industry to evolve in their own way. For automotive, it was the electric car. For technology, it was the touch screen. And for construction, design-build construction delivery is proof that the industry has learned from its shortcomings.


Design-build approach is the answer to countless project management inefficiencies throughout the construction process – that’s why we chose this approach as the foundation of our Hambro building systems. Here’s how design-build is slashing project schedules and keeping budgets firmly under control.


3d hambro arabelle project

3D Rendering, Arabella Retirement Living project with the design-build approach


What’s wrong with the old method?

Have you ever been involved in a construction project where everyone was working in silos and various clashes were discovered after breaking ground? With so many stakeholders involved, a lack of synergy and proper planning can lead to major issues down the road.


The most critical difference between design-build and a traditional approach is early involvement. In the case of a traditional project, developers hire a general contractor once the building design has been set in stone. It’s only when construction begins and trade specialists arrive onsite that clashes and inconsistencies are discovered. This often leads to finger-pointing, massive cost overruns, and significant delays.


The major flaw here is a lack of transparency and coordination. Design-build flips the traditional process on its head, figuring out how the puzzle should fit together before all of the pieces are made.


How does a design-build project unfold?


When you choose a design-build approach, every specialist comes on board at what I like to call the “napkin sketch” stage: an architect has typically completed a basic draft of the drawings, but nothing has been finalized yet. A focus on value engineering from this early stage is what truly sets this framework apart.


Step 1: Get all hands on deck


Design-build is a highly collaborative approach that sees the developer,  engineers, architects and contractors interacting on a daily basis. Plans are created with input from all parties involved, so everyone can use their combined knowledge to avoid conflicts down the road.


plans chart
Project Management tool with detailed list of collaborators and their assigned tasks within a specific timeframe


Once you break ground, our entire team of specialists will remain by your side throughout the construction process, providing full-time project management and site supervision services. Typically, our design, pre-construction and construction teams will coordinate with the developer and the general contractor, which ensures a smooth transition to the trades that step in at various stages.


Step 2: Identify problems before they happen

With design-build, our engineering and pre-construction teams review the architect’s rough drawings for any potential issues before they affect a project’s budget or timeline – for example, a conflict between key architectural elements and structural components. From the outset, design-build considers how building codes and the architectural vision can coexist, facilitating a smoother design process by pulling all parties into the fold.


If a clash is identified at this stage, a solution can immediately be found. With a traditional approach, these issues would only have been identified when a subcontractor came on board… which is far too late.


Step 3: Maintain synergy onsite using LPS

The Last Planner System (LPS) is a day-to-day scheduling strategy that is created collaboratively by the general contractor, subcontractor, and trades. This level of granular detail paints a clear picture of each team’s daily responsibilities and deadlines.


LPS therefore increases accountability, makes it easy to pinpoint the source of an issue, and facilitates quick implementation of corrective measures whenever necessary.


What are the main benefits of design-build?


Choosing a design-build approach provides countless advantages, all of which are rooted in preventive problem-solving and early involvement.


Guaranteed cost savings


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Each conflict and inconsistency that is identified before drawings are finalized is one less change order required during the construction process – and in the case of larger projects, those savings can run into the hundreds of thousands. Generally, design-build budgets are within a 5% accuracy range. 


Schedule certainty


When all conflicts are ironed out before construction begins, developers and general contractors don’t have to waste time solving technical issues on the fly. As a result, design-build construction schedules are usually up to 25-30% shorter. Additionally, when it comes to multi-residential projects like senior home care residences or apartments, this approach prevents developers from losing rental revenue with each passing month that the building sits unfinished.


Limited liability for the developer


In a traditional setup, the developer owns the building drawings and hires consultants directly. They are therefore liable for any overages or issues along the way. With a design-build approach, developers can enjoy a peace of mind because the liability is shared: since the general contractor or the superstructure subcontractor contributes to the drawings by acting as an Engineer of Record, they are also responsible for any additional costs that crop up.


Projects that use the Hambro structural systems offer this same assurance. Since we offer to be an Engineer of Record on the given project and we get involved at the very beginning, any issues that occur during construction are ours to solve.


Manufacturing to exact standards


Most components of a structure are prefabricated, especially when dealing with a steel structure. It’s extremely important to get it right the first time. If components arrive onsite and don’t fit, the costs to correct them would be astronomical. With design-build, you’re sure to get it right the first time, since the entire building is engineered as a cohesive system through collaboration with the entire consulting team and using the latest technological tools like Building Information Modeling (BIM).


joist, hambro, carne
Manufacturing to exact standards


The most important piece for the building owner is partnering with a team that follows strict quality standards and uses state-of-the-art tools to guarantee consistent quality.


Enhanced onsite safety


On all our design-build projects, we deliver steel components in their sequence of erection, which eliminates the need for material sorting and handling onsite. This approach is a tenet of Lean job site management that is just as beneficial for time management as it is for worker safety, since it requires far less component manipulation as compared to the traditional construction method.


As the answer to so many long-standing construction challenges, it’s easy to see why we were inspired by design-build when conceptualizing our Hambro structural systems. Are you feeling inspired too?


To find out more about the author, we invite you to view Slobodan Kukic LinkedIn profile.


1 comment

  1. Comment by Michael McMillan on 15 July 2021 at 15 h 56 min

    I am looking to get a building constructed this year or next. I have bought a lot, and have read everything I can find on your murox product. I have some rough ideas of the size of the building and some of the features, but much of this depends on construction and materials cost. Could someone contact me?