DBIA Best Practices

Practicing Design-Build Done Right™ is the Key to Success

Universal Best Practices

Based on research, case studies and extensive industry input, DBIA has defined design-build best practices and implementing techniques that deliver successful projects, no matter the size, type or sector. Design-Build Done Right™ is time-tested and proven its effectiveness by helping teams deliver some of our nation’s most impressive projects. There is a better way to build and DBIA’s many Best Practices resources help get you there.

Universal Best Practices

Defining Design-Build Done Right™

This document categorizes 10 best practices and nearly 50 supporting implementing techniques into three areas:

  1. Procuring Design-Build Services
  2. Contracting for Design-Build Services
  3. Executing the Delivery of Design-Build Projects

The evolution of this document is based on input from DBIA members and the A/E/C industry.


Market Sector Best Practices

The challenges facing sectors can be unique. That’s why industry leaders serving on DBIA’s market sector committees created these targeted resources to address specific issues impacting the Transportation, Water/Wastewater and Federal sectors. Start with the Universal Best Practices document and then use these targeted resources to deepen your design-build knowledge.

DBIA's Deeper Dive documents provide a more targeted look at specific topics important to each sector.

Transportation Sector Design-Build Best Practices

The transportation sector has many unique features that are central to the consideration of best practices in the procurement, contracting and execution of any design-build project. This document includes modifications to the universal implementing techniques and new techniques, all of which are intended to address the real-world attributes of the transportation sector.

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Transportation Deeper Dive

Use of Alternative Technical Concepts (ATCs)
Right-of-Way Acquisition
Utilities Management
Maintenance of Traffic (MOT)
Environmental Analysis and Permitting

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Water/Wastewater Sector Best Design-Build Practices

This document, which combines Universal Best Practices with water/wastewater best practices and implementing techniques, is the basis for Design-Build Done Right™ in the water/wastewater sector. It also highlights unique characteristics of water/wastewater Owners, projects, procurement and the design-build team structure.

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Federal Sector Best Design-Build Practices

It’s vital to understand the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), and what it allows and/or precludes, to deliver a successful design-build project in the federal sector. Most agencies further supplement the FAR with agency-specific policies and procedures tailored to their specific mission. This guide provides best practices, techniques and Design-Build Done Right™ tools to help teams navigate federal project delivery.

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Federal Deeper Dive

Federal Agency Use of Design-Build with Guaranteed Maximum Price

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Progressive Design-Build

One application of design-build delivery is via a stepped, or progressive process (commonly referred to as Progressive Design-Build or PDB). PDB uses a qualifications-based or best value selection, followed by a process whereby the owner then “progresses” towards a design and contract price with the team, thus the term “progressive.” This Progressive Design-Build Done Right™ document outlines the best practices for PDB delivery.

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Progressive Deeper Dive

Design-Build and Progressive Design-Build Key Characteristics

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Public-Private Partnerships (P3)

This primer provides a general overview of common P3 terminology and the benefits and challenges of undertaking a P3. It is meant to serve as a starting point for the user to further investigate and make inquiries regarding the delivery model.

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P3 Deeper Dive

Unique Considerations for Social Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships

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Selecting and Using an Owner's Consultant in Design-Build

Call them what you wish – owner’s consultant, owner representative, owner advisor, owner’s engineer, owner agent, criteria professional/consultant or A/E1 – they all serve the same purpose: to guide an owner through the process of advertising, selecting, hiring and working with the best design-build team for their project. Working from the assumption that the owner has already chosen to use design-build, this primer can help an owner select an owner’s consultant who will guide them through the process.

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DBIA Position Statements

  • Sustainability
  • LPTA Procurement
  • Design Excellence
  • Best Value Selection
  • Qualification Based Selection
  • Design-Build Teams
  • Use of Stipends
  • Integrated Project Delivery

Building resources are, and always have been, limited. Design-build’s inherent collaboration and innovation help ensure sustainability and project resiliency are vital goals for design-build teams.

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DBIA believes Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) does not provide best value to the government or the taxpayer. Technical solutions, quality, schedule, past performance and innovation should be the key value components governments use to determine who will deliver services to communities.

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Design excellence is integral to all successfully executed projects and is not the exclusive domain of any one contractual relationship or delivery system. In fact, design-build has delivered design excellence on some of the most high-profile projects in the nation.

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DBIA believes that cost/price evaluations should not dominate the owner’s best value process when selecting a design-builder. While cost/price can play a role in the selection process, prioritizing technical, design, management, past performance and other non-cost/price qualitative factors maximizes the likelihood of project success.

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Owners who choose their design-builders based largely on qualifications reap substantial benefits — such as increased teamwork, proactive behavior and collaboration — that help achieve project success.

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Successful design-build entities — however organized — structure the design-build team as early in the process as possible and encourage collaboration within the design-build team as well as full and open communication between the design-build team and the owner.

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DBIA supports the use of stipends to help cover a portion of the design-build proposal costs and provide an effective financial incentive to increase competition.

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Although both the design-build single-entity model and the Integrated Project Delivery multi-party model have features in common, including the goal to achieve effective integration, there can be substantial differences between these systems.

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Design-Build Manual of Practice

The Design-Build Manual of Practice is a comprehensive reference manual for owners and practitioners about all aspects of design-build practice. It provides everything you need to build your design-build foundation, such as: definitions, selection procedures, project execution checkpoints, tenets of professional ethics, risk management guidelines, contract formats, licensure data, and regulatory and legal information.

The Manual of Practice is a DBIA Members benefit. Sign-in with your DBIA online account to download.

Non-members can purchase the Manual of Practice in the DBIA Bookstore as individual chapters ($25) or a complete set ($350).

Manual of Practice Table of Contents

Manual of Practice Summary


Design-Build Introduction
Design-Build Definitions
DBIA Code of Professional Conduct

Overcoming Legal Impediments to Design-Build in the Public Sector

Legislative Guide for Alternative Project Delivery Methods (APDMs)
Enactment and Application of the Model Design-Build Procurement Act
Model Regulation for Design-Build Procurement Act (Best Value Process)

Best Practices in Acquisition and Procurement

Competitive Acquisition of Design-Build Services
Utilizing Negotiated Selection
Federal Design-Build Source Selection
Developing Performance-Based Requirements for Design-Build Projects
Contract Incentives and Design-Build Acquisition

Best Practices Pre-Award*

The Proposal Process: Responding to RFQs and RFPs
Design-Build Teaming Agreement Guide
Selecting Specialty Contractors
Design-Build Insurance and Bonding Guide

Best Practices Post-Award

Executing the Design-Build Project
Design Management for the Design-Build Environment
BIM and Design-Build Project Delivery
BIM Checklist (available to all)
Value Engineering in Design-Build: A Value Management Approach

Sector-Specific Best Practices

Transportation Infrastructure Best Practices
Design-Build Process for Civil Infrastructure Projects
Process Industries Best Practices

*Please note that many of the post-award chapters contain information that is pertinent to the project team’s work in the pre-award phase. 

Having problems? Can’t download the chapters?

Email Todd Rich or call (202) 454-7503.


For Members Only

Having access to DBIA’s Manual of Practice is just one of the many benefits to becoming a DBIA member.

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