DBIA Releases 10 Best Practices for 
Design-Build Done Right

DBIA announced the release of “Design-Build Done Right: Universally Applicable Best Practices Applying to Any Project Type, in Any Market Sector, of Any Size."

The Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) recently announced the release of “Design-Build Done Right: Universally Applicable Best Practices Applying to Any Project Type, in Any Market Sector, of Any Size."

Based on research, case studies, and extensive industry input, the report serves “as a single source that clearly defines design-build fundamentals to significantly enhance superior project outcomes," Lisa Washington, CAE, executive director/chief executive officer, DBIA, said. "With design-build currently at 40 percent of all non-residential design and construction, the impetus for owners to engage in design-build done right is at an all-time high. By applying these 10 DBIA best practices, owners and practitioners will unlock the inherent value of design-build project delivery."

Best practices supporting effective design-build start during the owner's procurement decision-making process and span through project execution. Each DBIA best practice is supplemented by several techniques that provide guidance on specific ways to implement the best practice. The combination of best practices and implementing techniques are the basis for design-build done right.

Design-build done right requires more than a good contract and appropriate risk allocation. Everyone from the owner to the subcontractors must understand the process and expectations and fully engage in the collaboration. DBIA categorizes the 10 best practices (and nearly 50 supporting implementing techniques) into three areas:

  • Procuring design-build services: Three best practices address an owner's choices of project-delivery system and procurement approach, which are among the first decisions an owner makes on a project. An owner should conduct a proactive and objective assessment of the unique characteristics of its program/project and its organization before deciding to use design-build. A procurement plan that enhances collaboration and other benefits of design-build and is in harmony with the reasons the owner chose the design-build delivery system then should be implemented.
  • Contracting for design-build services: Three best practices expound on the use of fair and clear contracts as fundamental to any delivery process. Contracts used on design-build projects should be balanced and promote the collaborative aspects inherent in the design-build process. The owner and design-builder should address the unique aspects of the design-build process, including expected standards of care for design services.
  • Executing the delivery of design-build projects: Four best practices highlight the need for all design-build team members to be specifically educated and trained in the design-build process and be knowledgeable of the differences between design-build and other delivery systems. The project team, at the outset of the project, should establish processes to facilitate timely and effective communication, collaboration, and issue resolution. Focus on the design management, commissioning/turnover processes, and team alignment also is critical.

DBIA recognizes there are real-world differences among design-build market sectors (e.g., water/wastewater, transportation, federal projects) and that specific implementation techniques might differ slightly from one market sector to another. For this reason, DBIA is in the process of working with market-sector experts on sector-specific documents to supplement the overall best practices released today. These will provide more detailed guidance on how to put these best practices and implementing techniques into use in different design-build market sectors.

DBIA intends to continually update its portfolio of publications, tools, and other resources.

To download the report, click here.

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