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Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build for Your Home Construction

design build, design bid buildBuilding a home is one of the most important things you’ll do in your life. It should also be one of the most fulfilling. Of course, you must choose the right builder. That means checking past work, trustworthiness, honesty, ethics, costs, and more. It also means understanding how that builder goes about designing and building. There’s more to it than just drawing up some plans and starting construction. Not every contractor is the same.

There are two methods: design-build and design-bid-build. Don’t be deceived by the similarity of names. They are very different.


The design-bid-build methodology has been around a long time because it is the easiest way  for contractors. It is not, however, the best for you necessarily, but sometimes it may seem like all you can find. Sometimes design-bid-build is called design-tender, hardbid, and traditional. This method has three phases:

  1. The home is designed to “cookie cutter” plans.
  2. Also called the tender phase. The builder starts bidding for projects.
  3. The final phase when the contractor gets everyone together to build the home.

While this method may seem to cost less, it’s main drawback is its inflexibility. The new homeowner gets a pre-chosen home plan and cannot alter it significantly. Hence, the “cookie cutter” homes in some neighborhoods. The homeowner can choose different finishes – floors, color schemes, etc. – but gets only a new home instead of a custom home.

The pros of this design-bid-build method include that it is efficient for building on new subdivisions and it can sometimes be simpler for budgeting.

The cons of design-bid-build make a longer list. For starters, you (the homeowner) get little input; you are more of a spectator. There will be multiple contacts with different trades companies and therefore multiple contracts, which can cause confusion and communication problems. Often you find that the contractors are the lowest cost providers, which can affect quality. Meanwhile, extra touches and design changes add more to the budget at every step. Once construction is underway, there is no real chance of making adjustments.


design build, design bid buildUnlike design-bid-build, design-build involves no tendering and has a process that focuses on the owner rather than the “one size fits all” approach. Design-build companies will do pretty much everything themselves. They have their own design team and trades in-house. This means easy communication for you through a project supervisor, rather than worrying about which tradesman to contact.

The home construction company truly works for you, rather than doing its own thing and making you adjust to it.

Without question, design-build is superior to design-bid-build for many homeowners. You get a one-stop shop, easier communications, more personal service,  and one contract to deal with. You get to have your new home designed the way you want – a custom home. Even better, once construction begins, you can still make changes to the design.

Some will say that design-build costs more, but consider what you want in a new home. It should suit you and your unique needs. Making changes to a traditional design-bid-build project can be difficult and most certainly will add time and cost to the job.

Last but not least, with design-build you get accountability and a warranty from a single company. If something needs more work, there is no confusion looking for which company did the work. You just call your single contact.

Final Word

Design-build is definitely the better way to go. You’ll get the home you want and get it faster and of higher quality. You will work with the same people through the entire process and have far fewer headaches with your home in the years ahead.

Greg NelsonGreg Nelson is the owner of Nelson Construction & Renovations Inc. He is a Florida State Certified Building Contractor, creating artistry in all areas of design and construction projects. He is a musician, and artist. A husband and father, Greg appreciates all the wonderful elements of family life.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Nelson Construction and a clickable link back to this page.

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