Water Design-Build Council Blog

What is the Best Way to Procure a Design-Build Project?

design-build-projectAn owner’s choice of delivery method and procurement approach invariably influences the level of success of a project’s outcome. To be successful, owners should perform a comprehensive assessment of project requirements to establish a clear understanding of its objectives, expectations, capabilities, and priorities. Individually or together, these attributes guide selection of the most appropriate project delivery method. The selected project delivery method, in turn, affects the duration, complexity and cost of procurement. 

Procurement of the Design Builder

When design build is the selected delivery method, a successful procurement of the design builder requires owners to assemble and guide their staff to explicitly define all elements of the procurement process, including the schedule, RFQ/RFP documents, selection criteria, performance objectives, and legal and financial considerations. To maximize the benefits of design-build delivery, owners should also foster a culture of collaboration among all members of their staff and potential respondents. By understanding stakeholder priorities early, owners can guide planning and procurement activities to maintain trust and support through the process.

Keep Project Objectives Top of Mind

The owner’s project objectives must remain top of mind as the procurement strategy is developed and should remain the touchstone for developing Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposal documents. In particular, design builder selection criteria should be carefully aligned with the project’s requirements and related owner objectives. Also, owners that have completed successful design build projects regularly emphasize the need for a strong advocate, well-versed in design build contracting, to lead its project implementation activity, beginning with initial planning and procurement.

Best Value Selection

Lastly, selecting a design-builder on a best value basis, considering qualifications and price, rather than price alone, regularly results in successful projects. Historically, low-bid selection often comes with conflicts, change orders, delays and cost increases. The initial low cost that was the basis of an owner's selection is rarely the final project cost. A qualifications-based design build procurement enables an owner to take advantage of the design-builder's relevant experience and bring them into the project earlier to collaborate on defining a scope, budget and schedule that meet or exceed project objectives.

Want to Learn More?

For an overview of important and essential factors to consider in implementing water and wastewater infrastructure projects using integrated project delivery methods, visit the Water Design Build Council’s website and download their Design-Build Handbook. For additional resources, the Design Build Institute of America offers a number of resources, including a publication of universally-applicable best practices for procuring, contracting and executing design-build projects.


Topics: water design-build project, procurement