DBIA Best Practices

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

Design-Build Done Right® Universal Best Practices (2023)

Universal Best Practices

Excellence. It’s built in.

DBIA’s Universal Best Practices is a good place to start your design-build journey. 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.

The 2023 Design-Build Done Right® Best Practices provides further detail on concepts covered in the 2014 version but does not conflict with that document or with what DBIA teaches in our core courses for certification. Updates included in the 2023 Design-Build Done Right® Best Practices will be incorporated into DBIA certification core courses and exam effective the fourth quarter of 2024.


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 Design-Build Best 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 Design-Build Best 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

Deeper Dive – Progressive Design-Build

One application of design-build delivery is via a collaborative, multi-phased or progressive process (commonly referred to as Progressive Design-Build or PDB). PDB uses primarily a qualifications-based selection, followed by a process whereby the Owner then “progresses” toward a design and contract price with the team (thus the term “Progressive”). This Deeper Dive document outlines the PDB delivery process and its key phases.

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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 Advisor in Design-Build

Call them what you wish – owner advisor, owner’s consultant, owner representative, 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 advisor who will guide them through the process.

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Virtual Design & Construction Primer

DBIA’s Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) Primer is a foundational document to help educate and elevate our membership and industry on the importance of VDC Done Right. It details the importance and value that can be realized by integrating technology and project delivery, defines key terminology and illustrates how the effective use of VDC can improve the industry.

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DBIA Position Statements

  • Best Value Selection
  • Design-Build Teams
  • Design Excellence
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
  • Flexibility
  • Integrated Project Delivery
  • LPTA Procurement
  • Prescriptive Design and the Use of Bridging Documents
  • Public-Private Partnerships (P3)
  • Qualifications-Based Selection
  • Sustainability
  • Use of Stipends
  • Virtual Design & Construction

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.


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.


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.


The Position Statement reaffirms DBIA’s belief that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are fundamental principles that drive excellence and innovation in the architecture, engineering and construction industry. Diversity in perspectives, backgrounds and experiences drive us to better serve society, enrich the design-build process and move us toward a more equitable and inclusive future.


Research continually shows that in addition to outperforming design-bid-build and construction manager at-risk in cost and schedule performance, design-build project delivery enhances teamwork and innovation and leads to better project outcomes when performed in accordance with the principles of DBIA’s Design-Build Done Right®. Design-Build Done Right® refers to both best-value and progressive design-build, and all applicable combinations of the procurement and contracting approaches performed in accordance with best practices.


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.


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.


The Position Statement reaffirms DBIA’s belief that successful design-build procurements minimize the use of prescriptive requirements and maximize the use of well written performance requirements that establish the project’s goals, desired outcomes and performance metrics. The use of extensive prescriptive design and bridging documents eliminates many of the advantages inherent in design-build delivery, including the design-build team’s ability to meet or exceed the Owner’s needs through innovation and creativity.


DBIA supports public-private partnerships as a potentially effective and efficient method to help address our nation’s infrastructure financing and delivery challenges. To be executed properly, a key component of a successful P3 is the implementation of design-build best practices as defined by DBIA, collectively referred to as Design-Build Done Right®.


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.


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.


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.


DBIA believes VDC is a people first approach – followed by process and technology – that optimizes the design and construction process while providing greater certainty of the outcome. Virtually designing and simulating the work before construction begins enhances the environment of collaboration, trust and sharing; increases team productivity; and eliminates redundancy and rework.


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.

Designers Resource

Managing the Design Phase in Design-Build

How can designers optimize their role on a collaborative design-build team to ensure project success? The Charles Pankow Foundation describes how the design-phase manager ensures that the owner’s objectives are realized, the design-builder’s goals are met, and the design is integrated with the construction.


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