A design-build contract is a unique type of project delivery system used in construction and renovation projects. Traditional contracts are awarded using a design-bid-build system, where the project owner starts by hiring an architect. Once the architect has finished the design phase, the project is put out for bid to general contracting companies. The contractor with the lowest bid is awarded the project, and is responsible for completing the job according to the plans created by the architect.
With a design-build contract, the owner awards the entire project to a single company. It is typically awarded to a contractor, though architects or engineers may be awarded a design-build contract in some specialized cases. Once the contract is signed, the contractor is responsible for all design and construction work required to complete the project. This system allows the owner to deal with a single source throughout the duration of the job, rather than coordinating between various parties. Most design-build contracts are awarded through negotiation rather than through a bid process.
This type of project delivery offers many benefits to the owner. He or she serves a simplified role in the construction process, and will often greatly reduce his administrative and management responsibilities. Design-build contracts generally result in a more team-oriented atmosphere, and may reduce claims and legal problems over the course of the project. This type of contract can have more accurate budgets and estimates, as well as a faster project completion time.