Q&A: What’s Next In Progressive Design-Build Delivery

By Nick Byers and Jon McGrew, Associate Principals

Hennebery Eddy Associate Principals Nick Byers and Jon McGrew are leaders in the Design-Build Institute of America.

Two of Hennebery Eddy’s alternative delivery leaders have new leadership positions with the Design-Build Institute of America. Associate Principal and Business Development Director Jon McGrew, DBIA, joined the national DBIA Education Committee and is treasurer of the DBIA Northwest Region chapter. Associate Principal Nick Byers, Assoc. DBIA, is now president of the DBIA Oregon chapter. Here, Jon and Nick address some Frequently Asked Questions about design-build project delivery.


For what types of projects does design-build work best?

Nick: The are two main factors to consider when looking at design-build as a delivery method: schedule and cost. If a project needs to finish by a certain date, you can use the early partnering offered by progressive design-build to have all team members on board as soon as possible (including trade partners), resulting in greater efficiencies. If the project has a tight budget, early partnering can allow you to go faster, and you can use the schedule savings to avoid higher premiums or inflation down the road. Right now, project location, lingering pandemic supply chain and lead time issues, and inflation can all significantly affect cost throughout a project’s life cycle, regardless of delivery method. Early input allows the opportunity to procure volatile building components before final documentation, which helps shed inflation and escalation risks.

Jon: The smaller the project is, the fewer opportunities there are to capitalize on what progressive design-build offers. However, even if the only thing you get out of it is picking your cooperative, experienced team, owners still get the cost certainty and a single point of responsibility — that’s value-added.

tech freestyle flexible office design
Confidential Client Tech Freestyle Workplace (progressive design-build project)


How has your involvement in DBIA advanced your ability to lead design-build projects and educate others?

Nick: Through the local and regional DBIA, we’ve been able to build a large network — an excellent group of owners, architects, contractors, trade partners, and consultants who are there to improve this delivery process. We have been able to stay connected with the greater construction community and meet new folks looking to become more involved.

Jon: Being involved with DBIA at all these levels has helped us have a much broader perspective than talking only to architects. You get to hear other perspectives on the market, and it creates a network of open communication between designers and builders.


What’s next for design-build in the Northwest? In the United States?

Nick: Five years ago, we were talking about progressive design-build as an alternative method, and many public entities had to justify using that delivery method. Concurrently, we reached out to owners and builders, introducing the possibilities of progressive design-build delivery. Today, more and more owners and builders are using design-build, seeing success, and sharing their positive experiences throughout the building community. Soon it won’t even be “alternative delivery” — I believe it will become a standard delivery method.

Jon: DBIA showed up in Oregon about a decade ago, but we didn’t have projects to talk about then. Today, Hennebery Eddy has a progressive design-build project in virtually every market sector. We have just as many active pursuits for progressive design-build projects as we do for other delivery methods.

There is nothing standing in the way of doing a private sector or public design-build project in Oregon. In Washington, firms have been working with the state legislature and DBIA to make design-build procurement easier to access. A builder in Montana I recently spoke with said they would love to use design-build for public projects but that it was only used for the private sector. We’re excited about the possibility of a DBIA presence in Montana to broaden awareness of the benefits of progressive design-build.

advanced manufacturing facility design
Portland Community College Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Training Center (progressive design-build project)


What advice do you have a firm or client who is new to design-build?

Nick: Do your homework and try to look at things through different lenses. There are pros and cons to all the delivery methods, and people might think design-build is the silver bullet, but there are certain circumstances for when and how to use it for best value. If you are an owner who needs to have complete control of all project aspects, or only want the lowest bid, progressive design-build may not be for you.

Jon: Ask yourself, “What do you value?” and “What are the project priorities?” Owners especially need to be able to articulate what is important. If your top goal is the cheapest building, that doesn’t necessarily align with progressive design-build. But, progressive design-build does allow for creativity, collaboration, and can result in the best solution for the context of the project. If you’re interested in design-build, participate in DBIA events where you will meet people who can help you learn about the process and provide resources.

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