Pop Quiz: The design-build construction method is:

A new trend, but unlikely to be sustainable The overwhelming choice for both owners and professionals Great for any type of project None of the above Who cares, I hate taking pop quizzes

We could all probably agree with the last choice, but the correct answer is none of the above. The design-build construction method isn’t necessarily universally preferred nor is it right for every project, but it is unquestionably growing in popularity and shows no signs of slowing down.

If you’re a building product marketer, the rise of design-build can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. Depending on which study you read, the design-build approach accounts for anywhere from 40-50 percent of all non-residential projects. And if you’re new to the game, below is the information you need to make the grade with design-build firms.

Recapping Design-Build

Design-build is the construction method in which the project owner enters into one contract with a single entity that is responsible for both the design and construction responsibilities. This is different from the more traditional design-bid-build approach in which the owner enters into multiple contracts, usually one with an architectural firm for the design and another with a general contractor for the construction.      


As we consider the pros and cons of design-build from a building owner’s perspective, you can start to see how your brand’s communication strategy might be affected.


  • Efficiency. Specialized services are streamlined under one roof which improves efficiency at all phases of the project, from conception to completion.
  • Cost. The cost benefit can be two-fold. The building owner can save cost by avoiding hiring an independent design firm and the contractor is more likely to be transparent on their pricing.
  • Risk and administration. The single contract allows the building owner to spend less time with administrative burdens and associated risk and more time monitoring the budget, timeline and quality of the project.
  • Criteria. There’s a general belief that contractors and builders chosen in a design-build environment aren’t as price-centric which means there’s a larger emphasis on capabilities and experience.


  • Customization. Because the building owner may not be as involved as they might be in a design-bid-build scenario, they are less likely to end up with a structure that is truly their own.
  • Competition. Not every firm is suited with the capabilities of a design-build team which makes for less competition, and thus, less of a pool of qualified suitors.
  • Compliance. If not handled responsibly, there’s an increased incentive for the contractor to simply adhere to minimum compliant standards in order lessen their costs.
  • Creativity. Without a specialized design firm, there’s a higher probability that creativity and design quality will suffer.

At the end of the day, the design-build approach provides building owners with an alternative to completing their projects, and in a lot of ways, an easier way to buy. And that’s the key for building and architectural product brands. Regardless if your products are being installed in a design-bid-build or design-build scenario, it requires marketers to make their products easy. Easy to find. Easy to specify. Easy to buy.

Just make sure you use a No. 2 pencil.

Enjoying what you are reading? Want to talk about how it applies to your business?