22 May

Delivering Success

The Ins and Outs of Design and Construction Project Delivery Methods

Lee Hyden, AIA, LEED AP Director of Architecture – Firmwide / Principal

There are many components involved in executing a successful renovation or new construction project. So many, in fact, that the whole process can often feel intimidating. But before we dive in, imagine for a moment that today you’ve just received the exciting news that your members have voted and officially approved a master plan you’ve been working rigorously on for months—and possibly even envisioning for years. This is wonderful! Your Club facilities will soon be reinvented and your members will be thrilled to spend even more time at the very place you’ve poured hours upon hours into managing. Ah—you exhale victoriously walking back to your office and take a seat at your desk wearing a gratifying smile. But now what?

Now that plans have been refined and you’ve received the go-ahead from your Board and members, it’s time for the architects, contractors, and all associated parties to get to work. But what exactly does this look like? Who executes this project? How do we turn a conceptual rendering into a real-life renovation—and a successful one at that?

Below, we do the heavy lifting for you by outlining different project delivery methods to help you identify the best approach for your club. You wear enough hats throughout the day—put that hard hat down for a moment and continue reading about the ins and outs of:

  • Design-Bid-Build
  • Design-Build
  • Construction Manager at-Risk
  • Integrated Project Delivery



Design-Bid-Build (DBB) is a method of project delivery in which plans and specifications are completed by the selected architect and the general contractors bid on the project exactly as it is designed. This is a traditional method where the project is bid by general contractors after the design is complete. Your club must request proposals from pre-qualified contractors, interview, and award the firm you feel is best suited for the job with cost estimates that align with your budget. As its name implies, this approach goes through two phases before construction begins—which has both advantages and disadvantages.

The DBB method can be attractive because owners can take their time during design phases to get the design just right before sending the project out to bid.  Additionally, the design team and contractor roles are separate and well-defined with clear responsibilities and liabilities. However, this means that the architect and general contractor have no connection until the plans are sent out to bid; and thus, this is where disadvantages can arise. For instance, the cost is not firmly established until the design is complete, a re-design or re-bid may be required in order to meet budget due to multiple parties being involved later on in the process, it’s less collaborative than a more integrated approach, and the schedule duration is longer. Here, owners serve as a mediator for any design and construction issues that occur for each party as there are multiple points of contact rather than one expert team.  While this method has been around the longest and can still be utilized, newer methods are surfacing that alleviate some of the disadvantages found in this process and can help get the job done quicker.



The Design-Build (DB) method has gained popularity primarily due to the desire of the owner to have a single point of contact for both the project design and construction. In this approach, the Design-Build entity can be led by either the architect or by the general contractor (GC). If led by the architect, GC services are either offered in-house or through trusted outside partnerships—but nonetheless, they are included in the design process from the beginning. Either way, you the owner must trust the Design-Build entity to get the job done effectively and efficiently. There must be a strong relationship of trust in this process in order for it to work because project delivery (including cost, efficiencies, and management) falls on the Design-Builder.

Because the Design-Builder is often able to produce plans and get building permits in the works sooner and a relationship between the architect and contractor is already established, this method can save time and money. Here, there is less time spent exchanging information or answering questions which also means change orders are less likely to occur. And while the architect and contractor are involved throughout the project, they are able to select subcontractors that meet the needs of your budget.

Still, there are disadvantages to this method as well. You may lose some control of the design process due to more frequent communication between the architect and contractor.  There isn’t a need for a mediator to bring both parties together like there is in the DBB method and we have found that many club leaders enjoy being more involved. This method also involves less competition and/or a variety of options as there aren’t multiple contractors bidding on the job. All-in-all, the DB method is performed by a single team under one contract, and with this comes both pros and cons depending on what you, your Board, and your committees are looking for.



Construction Manager at-Risk (CMAR)—also referred to in the industry as Construction Manager as Constructor (CMc)—is a method in which the owner employs a construction manager who will complete the construction and also provide construction management services. Here, the functions of both parties are merged and assigned as one entity who typically assumes control over the subcontractors and their contracts directly. The name itself helps to imply the meaning behind this method, which is that there are additional risks being taken on by the CMAR that normally do not exist, but alleviates risk for the owner. By holding these subcontracts, the CMAR is responsible for the schedule, quality, and cost of the work covered by these agreements.

This project delivery method is becoming very popular today. Benefits of this approach include faster schedules, early involvement of both the architect and construction manager, transparent cost of the work (including fees), and better communication and organization with distinct roles for all entities. While the advantages are beneficial, issues can arise if each respective party is not fully aware of its role and associated duties. Because everyone is included in the project from the very beginning, knowing who is in charge can get muddy if not addressed. All parties involved need to understand and be well-versed in the terms and conditions of the prime agreements between the owner, architect, and contractor to ensure roles and responsibilities are defined and inferred. There are certainly gray areas to this approach but with open and clear communication from the beginning, this method can be very effective.



The American Institute of Architects defines Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) as a method that integrates people, systems, business structures, and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction. In short, this approach is a team effort—it aims to create a unique bond from day one of planning. Additionally, IPD can be presented as a philosophy rather than a standalone method by applying integrated practices (such as early involvement and shared resources with building information modeling) to the more traditional project delivery approaches above.  You can think of this method as a collaborative agreement that can drive success for your project.

IPD teams are contractually tied together differently than traditional DBB, CMAR, and DB agreements. This can be outlined in what the industry calls an IDP Agreement which includes the owner, architect, and contractor in a single contract for a single dollar amount. This contract then specifies the responsibilities of each individual party but also points out that successful delivery of the project is the responsibility of all three. Examples of what is included in an IPD Agreement can be viewed here.



Determining which project delivery method is best for your renovation or new construction project is a decision that only you and Club Leadership can make.  The best approach will ultimately be determined by your specific circumstances and the purpose of this article is to give you an overview of each method to help make your decision easier. In recent years, we have seen the DBB method used less frequently and have found much success in the CMAR approach. We have also found real benefits in applying principles of integrated project delivery—collaboration, early involvement, shared resources—in every project regardless of delivery methodology. Nevertheless, talk with your Board and choose the option that meets the needs of you and your club and your members will be enjoying new facilities in no time!

Still not sure which route is best for your club? Let’s chat!

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