Project Delivery Methods – Which Will Benefit My Construction Project the Most?

Design_Build vs DBB Graph

All buildings are not built the same.  Sure, they have foundations, a structure, exterior and interior finishes, but how the design and construction processes are managed and delivered varies from project to project. The delivery method will have a major impact on the final outcome of the project.

As an Owner, you must make a critical decision at the very beginning regarding how you want the project delivery team to work together:


1. Design-Bid-Build

Using this method, you would hire an architect, engineers, and other consultants to put together a complete design package including plans and specifications. When the design is fully complete, they are then sent out to a list of general contractors to bid on the project based on the plans and specs you sent them. The list of contractors could be two or twenty, but the outcome is usually the same. Lowest price wins. This working relationship is totally based on price.


  • Traditional method that people are used to implementing
  • Complies with the public bidding market


  • Adversarial relationship based totally on price
  • No owner input on subcontractor selection
  • Zero builder input during design creating an opportunity for change orders

An example of a Horst project that was completed using the Design-Bid-Build Method – Silver Spring Township Fire Company.


2. Construction Management At Risk

Using this method, you would hire a construction manager to act as a consultant during the design phase and then take on the role of general contractor during the construction phase of the project. You as the owner would still hire the architect, engineers, and consultants separately, but you now have a construction advisor at the table. The CM usually offers pricing and practical advice during the design phase, but they are still just an advisor. During construction, they act as a general contractor, which again is based on the price of the documents.


  • Builder input during design – constructability reviews and value engineering
  • Understanding of cost and schedule before construction begins


  • Design risk still remains with the owner
  • Control of the project is transferred to CM at construction
  • Minimal input of the owner on subcontractors utilized on the project

An example of a Horst project using the Construction Management At Risk Method – Luther Village III


3. Design-Build

design build organizational chartUsing this method, you would hire a design-builder to act as the designer and builder for your project. This would be a single contract where you as the owner procure the design and construction services under one entity. There will be an architect, engineers, and other design consultants involved, but they fall under the responsibility of the design-builder and not you as the owner.


  • Single point of contact for design and construction
  • Minimal risk to owner for design and construction
  • Transparency during design and construction
  • Guaranteed Maximum Price


  • Potential loss of owner control
  • Limited options on who you can hire for this method – they must have experience!

Examples of Horst projects using the Design-Build Method – Lancaster Bible College – Charles Frey Academic Center, Design-Build

As a successful Design-Builder, Horst Construction can expand on our experience, the benefits regarding the design-build delivery method, and how it can work for your next construction project. Click to learn more about our preconstruction and design-build services and how our process can evaluate your needs and keep the focus on your vision.


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The article was originally posted on September 25, 2015 and was updated March 9, 2020.