All You Need to Know About DBB (Design Bid Build) Project

Published on 09th May 2023

Design-bid-build delivery method is a traditional project delivery method used in the construction industry. Also known as the DBB method, the process involves contracting separate entities for the design phase and construction process. 


In this method, the owner first hires an architect or civil engineer to design the project and then invites bids from general contractors. Sometimes, the owner may hire a separate construction management entity to oversee the project. 


The DBB construction method has been used for decades and is one of the most commonly used project delivery methods in the construction industry. 


This blog explains everything you need to know about the Design Bid Build project delivery method.


What is design bid build project delivery method?

Design Bid Build delivery method or DBB delivery method is one of the most widely used project delivery methods in the construction industry. In the design bid build method, the project owners sign contracts individually with designers and contractors. There is no contractual bond between designers and contractors, except the channels for coordination and communication. 


It provides a clear separation between the design and construction phases. It also allows the owner to control the design process and ensures competitive pricing for the construction work. However, it also has some drawbacks, including a longer overall project timeline and potential disputes between the parties involved.



This system is a common method used and is found to suit clients of all types, particularly government institutions for public projects. Due to the feature of linear progression, this system provides better management for the client, but it gives little consideration to the designing, information communication, and construction delivery.


Design Bid Build Process

Design phase: The owner engages a design consultant to prepare the design of the project, including construction drawings, and specifications. The Design Consultant may also provide additional services including environmental investigation, permitting, right‐of‐way purchase documents, stakeholder management, and submissions for project funding.


Bid phase: Once the design phase is completed, the tender is floated. The general contractors bid on the design bid build projects based on the completed design plans and specifications. Thereafter, the owner selects the lowest responsible bidder to build the project.


Sometimes, the project owner considers a hybrid of price and technical merit for selecting the right contractor. The selected general Contractor and the owners then sign the contract documents. The main contractor may then hire various subcontractors for specific parts of the project. 


Build phase: The awarded general contractor is responsible for constructing the project in accordance with the contract documents. At this stage, the design consultant typically maintains limited oversight of the work and responds to questions about the design on behalf of the owner. 


If a construction manager or project manager is not involved in the process, the Design Consultant may also assist the owner in administering the construction contract, including the determination of project progress, for validation of interim payments made to the general contractor.


Multiple Prime Contracting

MPC or Multiple Prime Contracting is an important aspect of a DBB project. As per MPC, the owner holds separate contracts with various contractors, such as structural contractor, mechanical contractor, and electrical contractor. In this system, the owner, or its construction manager, manages the overall schedule and budget.


Role of the Project Manager/Construction Manager in DBB Projects

The project manager (PM) or construction manager (CM) is responsible for the following tasks in a DBB construction project.

  1. Preconstruction planning: The PM/CM reviews the design documents and specifications submitted by the design contractor. This ensures no potential construction issues or faulty plans remain in the design. 
  2. Contractor selection: Sometimes the project owner assigns the project manager to select the right contractors and subcontractors for the project. In such cases, the PM/CM assists the project owner in bid evaluation to select the right contractor best fit for the project.
  3. Preparing budget and work schedules: The PM/CM also prepares the construction project budget and work schedules for the project. Moreover, it is the PM/CM’s responsibility to coordinate among the various parties and track the project activities.
  4. Construction oversight: During the construction phase, the CM monitors the work of the contractor to ensure that it complies with the project plans and specifications. The CM also ensures that the project is progressing on schedule and within budget.
  5. Quality control: The CM conducts regular inspections and reviews of the work performed by the contractor to ensure that it meets the required quality standards.
  6. Issue resolution: The PM/CM acts as an intermediary between the project owner and contractors. Therefore, he provides a resolution for construction disputes arising that arise between the owner and contractor during the construction phase.



The DBB delivery method has been the standard project delivery method for many years. This method gives the owner reliable price information for the project before construction starts. With proper design oversight and budgeting of the total project, costs are somewhat predictable for the owner once the bids are received. However, there are some inherent risks associated with the method which are described below.

  • An initial low bid might not result in the ultimate lowest cost or final best value
  • A higher level of inspection/testing is needed by the owner
  • The owner bears the risk of design adequacy
  • Potential adversarial relationship among the contracting parties
  • Limited opportunity to incentivize contractors to provide enhanced performance (cost, time, quality)


Design Bid Build: Pros and Cons

Design Bid Build Advantages 

  • Applicable to a wide range of projects such as civil/public infrastructure projects.
  • This method is widely applicable, well understood, and has well‐established and clearly defined roles for the parties involved.
  • This method is the most common approach for public owners having to comply with local, or state procurement acts.
  • The owner controls design and construction.
  • The owner has a significant amount of control over the end product, particularly since the project’s features are fully determined and specified prior to the selection of the contractor.
  • Design changes can be easily accommodated prior to the start of construction
  • Design is complete prior to construction and the construction cost is fixed as per the contract


Design Bid Build Disadvantages 

  • The construction can not start until the design is ready and approved, thereby delaying the work schedules.
  • The owner bears all the risks during construction since the construction contractor has no role in design documents.
  • Communication and coordination among the various parties may be a problem since every team works independently.
  • If the owner uses the fixed price bidding and compensation method, the contractor may follow a least‐cost approach to completing the project and the owner may receive less scope or lesser quality than expected for the price, requiring increased oversight and quality review by the owner. If the Owner uses the unit price bidding and compensation method, the contractor may pursue an increased‐scope approach to maximize revenue from the contract, while providing the owner more scope than expected.
  • Since the construction contractor has no role in the design, the designer may not fully consider the practical constructibility of the project. 
  • The owner must be an expert in design and resource allocation
  • Construction cost remains unknown until contractors submit bids


Design-Bid-Build vs Design-Build

The main difference between Design-Bid-Build and Design-Build is the type of contract involved. While in the DBB construction method, the owner signs different contracts with different entities for design and construction, in the DB construction method, a single contract, similar to an EPC contract, governs the entire project.

Criteria Design-Bid-Build Design-Build
Contract structure Three separate contracts govern three different phases of the project - design, construction, and project management. A single contract governs the entire project right from design to construction and management.
Project control The project owner has more control over each phase of the project. The project developing entity has more control over the project as it handles both design and construction.
Cost control Owner controls the cost of the project by directly getting involved. Further, the owner can save costs by choosing the lowest bid for design and construction. The contractor can maximize the construction profit margin by identifying various cost-saving opportunities throughout the project.
Communication issues may arise between the stakeholders of each phase as the owner, designer, and contractor are responsible for different phases of the project. Chances of better communication and coordination among the various teams as all of them work under a single contractor.
Approach The construction takes place in a linear process where one phase can not start until the previous phase is finished. A collaborative process by every team and work can start in advance as every team is aware of what is going on in the project.


Key Takeaways

DBB process at a glance:

  • Design‐Bid‐Build is a traditional construction project delivery system
  • Owner contracts separately for the project design and project construction services
  • The construction bid documents are based on complete design and specifications
  • The project owner retains a high level of control and risk


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