HHJ Architecture & Construction


Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build: What’s the Difference?

There are a couple things to know when it comes to comparing design-build vs design-bid-build projects. Luckily, this guide has you covered.

In the U.S., there are more than 5.9 million commercial buildings. The number of buildings has increased by 56% since 1979. When constructing commercial buildings, various project delivery methods can be followed. Each has unique pros and cons, so choosing the right option will depend on an owner’s unique goals as well as the complexity and size of the project.

In this guide, we’ll look at the differences between the design-build vs. design-bid-build construction methods.

What Is Design-Bid-Build?

When using the design-bid-build framework, an owner will follow a three-step process.

This method starts with an owner deciding on a project and then hiring a Tacoma architect or design team to complete the design. The preliminary drawings and product descriptions created by a design team will then be used to seek bids from contractors. The design documents will be sent to contractors and they’ll have a chance to bid on it.

After bidding, an owner will choose a commercial contractor to work on the project. Finally, a general contractor will start building.

What Is Design-Build?

When using the design-build framework, an owner will follow a two-step process.

The process will begin with the owner deciding on their desired project. Then, they’ll hire a company to handle the design and construction. This company will work to create architectural drawings and handle construction work.

A quality design-build contractor such as HHJ Architecture & Construction can provide both types of services. We’re a great choice to consider when taking the design-build approach.

Design-Build Vs. Design-Bid-Build

Both construction methods can be good choices but the one that an owner chooses should be based on their specific needs. Each has its benefits.


The design-bid-build framework usually ends up being more cost-effective but the timeline is usually a bit slower. The design will follow a clear path and each step will be completed before starting on the next.

Another disadvantage is that the owner will need to work with two different parties. This means that an architect may design a project with little insight into the construction costs and the costs of materials. Due to the nature of bidding, it can also be difficult to make design changes later on.


The design-build framework removes the bidding process entirely. An owner will hire a company based on qualifications rather than by selecting a bid.

Since a single company will handle both design and construction, the timeline can move a bit more quickly than with the design-bid-build framework. There may also be fewer conflicts and collaboration issues.

On the other hand, the job may be a bit pricier. The owner won’t be able to shop around and compare bids as much.

Planning Your Project

When starting a commercial building project, understand the differences between the design-build vs. design-bid-build methods. While design-bid-build could be more affordable, design-build can be a great choice when time is of the essence. It can also allow for smoother collaboration and better project cohesiveness.

With over 40 years of construction and architecture design experience, Roger Hanson has shaped and led HHJ since the 1970’s. Today, we’re a family-run business that brings architects and builders together to serve our clients with gratifying results.

Need help planning and building your project? Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help.