Design-Build Chosen to Control Costs

Posted on December 30, 2010


It was not long ago I wrote about design-build as a way to control costs. This idea was espoused by Barry LePatner in his book Broken Buildings Busted Budgets. Well last month at the Healthcare Design Conference (HCD.10) the thesis for a lab design forum was just that:  ‘design build was chosen for cost containment’.

The story gets better. Not only was design-build chosen to deliver a laboratory building for the Nevada Cancer Institute (NVCI), but the owner hired a team whose expertise was casinos (only in Nevada, right) to do the project! This particular team had never done a lab building.  From an owner’s standpoint, they looked either a) extremely stupid, or b) extremely confident in the process. Since these were cancer researchers, I would have to say the latter.

The building turned out well. Subsequent phases of development on the campus continued to take cues and mimic the flagship building, so the aesthetics were a success in that they gave the NVCI an identity. The projects all came in way under the original estimates (based on traditional DBB delivery) for the buildings, even though the same design-build team was not maintained for all buildings on the campus.  Once again, supreme confidence in design-build and it proved itself again.

Old thinking on design-build is that it is not a method to be relied upon for complex buildings. This simply is not true. To coopt one of Detroit’s Big Three ad slogans:  this is not your father’s design-build. Conferences and design magazines continue to prove design-build is not only a reliable and successful way to deliver a project, but it is a growing method that is easily capable for the most complicated projects:  healthcare.

Owners, especially healthcare CEOs, who use design-build know what a great value they receive. It is no wonder it is a preferred method for healthcare developers, too, who value the speed to market and integration. The old excuses are not accurate now, and probably never were. Design-build does not merely hold its own against Design-Bid-Build, it is superior on many fronts. It may take a while for this to sink in. In the meantime, shrewd healthcare executives and even developers are lowering their capital expenses and laughing all the way bank.

Posted in: Design-Build