Understanding the Benefits of Design-Build Contracts

By AIA Contract Documents

November 8, 2022

A recent study conducted by the Design-Build Institute of America found that design-build is fast becoming the industry’s’ favored project delivery method. Once viewed as unconventional, design-build is now viewed as the preference, projected to account for an astounding $400 billion worth of work by the year 2025. Understanding them can help you determine whether they’re right for your project.

In a traditional construction project, the designer and contractor are viewed as separate entities. A design-build contract combines these two parties. Under this arrangement, only one party is responsible for the designing and building project contract with the chosen party becoming known as the design-contractor.

 The Benefits of Design-Build

 Design-build contracts offer several benefits including:

  1. Single point of contact: Unlike the traditional contract dynamic where several relationships are juggled, there’s only one in a design-build environment. This single point of contact greatly reduces confusion and improves efficiency. There are no more assumptions and eliminates chaos often associated with construction projects as the entire decision-making process rests with one party.
  2. Cost management: Using one party can also save you money. Timelines and scopes are more accurate, and this allows you to better manage expenses and keep a comprehensive view of the ongoing costs. Budgets can be maintained, and resources allocated to need areas across your organization and this in turn can greatly improve your financial standing.
  3. Quality standards: In a design-build environment, all parties have proverbial skin in the game and a vested interest in the outcome. The level of accountability results in fewer revisions and callbacks, yielding a finished project that meets or exceeds the quality expectations of the customer.
  4. Fosters collaboration: Disconnects and poor communication often plague construction projects, especially when there are more than one party involved. In a design-build environment where all parties are required to work in unison, an atmosphere of collaboration is fostered. This limits uncertainty and eliminates mistakes that can adversely affect the project.
  5. Completion time: Speed to completion is almost always a factor when choosing a design-build system. Research shows that on average, owners see their projects being completed 12% faster using design-build systems as opposed to the traditional ones.


Design-build contracts can benefit all types of construction projects. From residential renovations to commercial constructions and beyond, the versatility of a design-build system is nothing short of exceptional. As the industry moves forward, understanding and adopting these types of fresh ideas will be essential for ongoing success.

AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.