New Research Shows Design-Build Continues to Deliver Project Most Efficiently

CII/Pankow Study Says Design-Build is Faster, With More Reliable Performance and Less Cost and Schedule Growth

New research shows that America’s design-build projects continue to deliver faster, and with greater reliability in cost and schedule performance, than other delivery methods. It’s been 20 years since the seminal CII/Penn State research showed that design-build projects consistently delivered projects more efficiently. Over the decades, even as projects have evolved in complexity through many diverse economic cycles, design-build continues to provide improved value to communities.

“As our nation continues to struggle with the unmet needs of crumbling infrastructure and budgets stretched thin, it’s no surprise that most states have embraced design-build as a better way to deliver projects vital to our economic growth. Whether it’s a billion-dollar airport or small community library, this research confirms design-build continues to deliver innovative projects that save time and money. Design-build is clearly a better way to build.”…Lisa Washington, CAE, DBIA Executive Director/CEO.

Research Highlights

This research was conducted by Keith Molenaar, Ph.D., DBIA, Stanton Lewis Professor and the Associate Dean University of Colorado Boulder and Bryan Franz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor University of Florida. A total of 212 projects were included: 53 of which were DBB, 79 were CMR and the remaining 80 were DB.  62% of these projects were publicly funded and 38% were privately funded. All projects were completed between 2008 and 2013 and represented a variety of building uses, including:

  • Light industrial
  • Heavy industrial
  • Multi-story dwelling
  • Simple office
  • Complex office
  • High technology

Project Cost: On average, projects using Design-Build (DB) cost 1.9% less per square foot when compared to Construction Manager at Risk (CMR) and 0.3% less when compared to Design-Bid-Build (DBB). Design-Build projects also average 2.4% less cost growth than a comparably scoped project using CMR and 3.8% less cost growth than a project using DBB.

Project Schedule: Design-Build was the best performing project delivery system in terms of schedule growth, delivery speed and construction speed. DB projects see 3.9% less schedule growth than CMR and 1.7% less than Design-Bid-Build. They’re also 13% faster than CMR during the construction phase and 36% faster than DBB. From design through completion, DB projects are delivered 61% faster than CMR and 102% faster than DBB.


The Revisiting Project Delivery Performance research summary is now available online.