UC Davis Moore Hall

McCarthy Design-Build Services

Design-Build Provides Solutions Many Owners Didn’t Realize, Building its Popularity

Design-Build — helps owners find solutions to the growing demands on their construction resources while delivering cost and schedule certainty. 

When planning for a construction project, cost and schedule certainty are typically on the top of an owner’s list of priorities. Today, owners have growing concerns related to their shrinking construction resources. Project delivery methods that facilitate early and effective team collaboration, such as design-build, directly impact the likelihood of delivering this certainty and reducing the demands on their resources.

In fact, the Design-Build Association of America (DBIA) reports that the use of design-build project delivery is growing, with an increasing percentage of owners tapping into the many benefits of this approach. For example, early team collaboration among the owner, design and engineering professionals, builder, trade partners and suppliers helps promote team interaction and drives a deep sense of ownership right from the start. In addition, DBIA found that when compared with traditional design-bid-build delivery, design-build projects are completed 33.5% faster with 5.2% less cost growth.

McCarthy has a long history of utilizing design-build, completing more than 200 projects across the country totaling nearly $5 billion. We find the collaborative process that design-build promotes results in greater overall project success because of our ability to work hand-in-hand with owners and design partners to deliver the most complex projects under strict budgets and schedule constraints.

Although the design-build delivery method is not widely used in Arizona on projects outside of horizontal construction, many more owners are embracing the method due to recent success and greater industry acceptance.

When should an owner choose design-build?

  • When you want a single-point of responsibility and prefer to avoid controversy among team members.  
  • When you want to receive unified recommendations from your design-build team.
  • When your project has myriad of design and construction challenges, and you want cost-effective solutions.
  • When your project is phased, there is an ability to package the work so certain portions can advance into construction early, while other packages continue being designed – this allows the overall project schedule to shorten.
  • When you prefer early cost and schedule commitment from your design-build partners.
people working in an office

What are the benefits to owners?

  • Fewer changes, claims and litigation.
  • Allocation of risk to those who can best manage the risk.
  • Design-build is a faster, more cost-efficient and gives the owner a single point-of-contact.
  • Because there is one team, the demand for construction resources is better managed and impacts owners far less than other methods.
  • The project will far exceed your expectations in terms of schedule, design and cost when the owner best understands their role.

More owners are looking to design-build as an appealing delivery method, not only because of its speed to market, but also because of the cohesiveness of the team that occurs when the designer and general contractor select one another - when the chemistry is strong, the results are great. 

Eddie Garcia, AIA, LEED, AP
Vice President and Phoenix Studio Leader for Higher Education with Smithgroup JJR

What are the common misconceptions about design-build?

The owner loses control.

The reality is that the owner is actively engaged, particularly during its early stages and with one-to-one meeting participation. The owner plays a critical role, but because of the way the team works, demand on the owner’s construction resources is less overall.

The builder stifles creativity.

A design-builder relationship lends itself to good chemistry and more better collaboration, which actually enhances the project. Because the team works under one umbrella to understand the project’s programmatic, aesthetic and functional goals, they work as a team to deliver those items while being respectful of the budget and schedule.

It’s more expensive.

Data shows that a design-build project can complete more quickly and cost-effectively when compared to other delivery methods.

The tangible benefits of early team collaboration are clear and are driving how building projects are being planned, designed, procured, constructed, and ultimately turned over to the end user.

Drawing from lessons learned and best practices, from both our own projects and those of the most innovative and high-performing organizations, McCarthy has developed an industry-leading approach that helps owners experience success by starting early in the design phase to promote speed and innovation while advancing team effectiveness.


Mike Gonzalez

Mike Gonzalez

6225 N 24th St
Ste 125
Phoenix, AZ 85050