Design-build focuses on combining the design, permit, and construction schedules in order to streamline the traditional design-bid-build environment.
This does not shorten the time it takes to complete the individual tasks of creating construction documents (working drawings and specifications), acquiring building and other permits, or actually constructing the building. Instead, a design-build firm will strive to bring together design and construction professionals in a collaborative environment to complete these tasks at the same time.
Typically the hallmark of a Design/Build project is that one organization is responsible for both design and construction of the project. If this organization is a contractor, the process is known as “Contractor-led Design-Build”. If the organization is a design firm, the process is known as “Design-led Design-Build”. In either case, the organization employed by the owner rarely handles both aspects of design and construction in-house. In fact, the organization often subcontracts with on-site personnel (if design-led) as well as architects and engineers (if contractor-led).
Cost estimating for a design-build project is sometimes difficult because design documents are often preliminary and may change over the course of the project. As a result, design-build contracts are often written to allow for unexpected situations without penalizing either the Design-Builder or the owner. Several organizations (such as the Design/Build Institute of America) provide standardized form contracts for design-builders to use, but it is not unusual for the design-builder to provide its own contractual documents.