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[CBT] Why You Should Consider the Design-Build Approach

Published on May 11, 2023

This article originally appeared in May 2023's edition of the Columbia Business Times.

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For many businesses, from construction companies and building supply companies to retail shops and brand-new, entrepreneur-driven enterprises, the concept of innovation is sometimes just a buzzword or a theme that isn’t well understood.

At Prost Builders, innovation is not just a word or a concept. It’s how one of Missouri’s largest design-build companies does business. Founded in 1949, Prost Builders has completed thousands of large and small projects in hundreds of communities —from performing renovation work at the Missouri State Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion to smaller public and private projects.

When it comes to innovation, Prost Builders has expertise with the design-build process, which saves both time and money for client partners. Most people are probably familiar with the traditional design-bid-build process, the process public, tax-funded entities — such as schools and government entities — must follow. With traditional project delivery, the owner — the client paying for the project – will contract with an architect/design firm, then the project goes out to bid. What’s important to remember is that the project cost is not truly determined until a bid is selected.

With design-bid-build, the winning bidder becomes the contractor and will work with the architect/design firm, and both may hire subcontractors. That process can lead to delays in getting supplies and other building material and a longer-than-desired completion time. The traditional process, though a valuable method for many years, is becoming less popular when compared with the advantages of the design-build approach where one firm does both the design and building.

What are the primary differences between design-bid-build and design-build, and how does design-build help customers?

  • Saves time: Design and construction can occur at the same time; bidding periods and redesign times are eliminated; and long-delivery components are identified and ordered early in the design process. As a result, total design-construction time is significantly reduced, which translates into earlier use of the completed facility.
  • Saves money: Design and construction personnel, working and communicating as a team, evaluate alternative materials and methods accurately. From the onset of the project, both design and construction expertise are brought to bear upon all components of a project from sitework through mechanical and electrical systems. Because cost evaluation is progressively “fed back” into the design process as it proceeds — not after the design is completed — decisions affecting cost and design are continuously optimized in real time.
  • A single contract to manage: Because the builder is contractually responsible for both the design and construction, cost overruns resulting from design error or faulty coordination are the responsibility of the builder — not the owner. The owner pays only for scope changes which he or she initiates. The entire process is made easier because there is only one contract for the owner to manage.
  • Versatility: The design-build delivery method works wonderfully for all types of projects: new construction, renovations, expansion, historical restoration, retrofit, or any combination of those needs.

To summarize, design-build is time saving, getting the work done within budget and on time, and maybe even sooner. The owner isn’t waiting to bid the project and has already worked with the design team to determine costs. Team members focus on solving problems together based on the owner’s needs.

Single-source design and production of industrial and consumer products, both large and small, has long been the norm throughout our economy. Now, quite understandably, design-build is being used on nearly 45 percent of construction projects throughout the U.S.

That trend continues in Columbia and throughout Missouri, with Prost Builders leading. Design-build is more than just an innovative concept. It’s how Prost Builders does business.

Vaughn Prost is the owner and president of Prost Builders lnc., a design/build and construction services firm located in Columbia. Vaughn has over forty years of domestic and international design and construction experience as a cost and scheduling engineer, structural engineer, owner’s construction representative, and general contractor.

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