What Are the Four Basic Construction Delivery Methods?

Project delivery is a concept that defines the relationships and responsibilities of all parties involved in a contract. To avoid confusion, delays, and downtime, it’s important to clearly define all expectations of the contractor, designer, owner, and other relevant stakeholders.

Keep reading to learn about four common construction delivery methods: Design-Build (DB), General Contracting (GC), Construction Management, and Self Perform.

1. Design-Build (DB)

Design-Build is the simplest construction project delivery method and is primarily used to ensure the project flows smoothly for the owners. One contracting firm covers all design and building phases clearly laid out in a single contract. Some advantages of DB delivery include:

  • Single Contract: The engineering, architecture, and building phases are detailed in a single contract.
  • One Contractor: Projects run more fluently as a single contractor is responsible for all deliverables.
  • Fewer Design Issues: The designer is also the builder in this delivery method, so developing issues are spotted and addressed early.

The downside of the Design-Build delivery method is that owners have little say about the project’s architecture, budget, management style, or the subcontractors that may be on site. That’s why choosing a qualified, vetted designer/builder is crucial for project success.

The DB delivery method is typically best used on projects of average complexity, like commercial buildings or infrastructure projects, where a single point of responsibility is sufficient to achieve optimal results.

2. General Contracting (GC)

General Contracting or GC is often called the “traditional” delivery method. Here’s how the GC process is set up:

  1. The owner chooses a general contractor for the RFP process.
  2. The general contractor accepts multiple bids from subcontractors.
  3. The general contractor builds a team of subcontractors and executes the project, managing all necessary disciplines. .

With this delivery method, the owner defines and enforces all specifications and standards, the builder engages construction according to the critical project characteristics, and the owner moderates all project activity.

This delivery protocol is very familiar to most designers and builders and often accommodates the lowest possible up-front costs. And although there are two separate contracts in play, owners typically appreciate being involved in the project’s different phases.

Although it’s known as the “traditional” delivery method, that doesn’t mean it’s the best method for every project. The drawback to this delivery method is the possibility of inefficient collaboration between stakeholders, which can lead to production delays. Furthermore, this method can take longer because no construction occurs during the design phase.

3. Construction Management (CM)

Construction Management (CM) is a branch of the General Contract construction project delivery method. It’s quite similar in structure, except the owner hires a construction manager (CM) to oversee all design and construction tasks. The CM supervises all subcontractors and acts as a liaison to the owner.

In return for the CM assuming all responsibility for the project’s timely and quality completion, the owner provides a guaranteed maximum price (GMP).

The owner will likely provide a bonus if the manager can bring the project to completion under budget. However, if the CM fails to deliver on time or the project goes over budget, they may have to make up for any financial differences.

As with a GC delivery, the Construction Management option involves two separate contracts for the owner. In CM, one contract is from the designer, and the other is from the construction manager instead of the builder.

This delivery method allows builder collaboration from the start, making more accurate budget predictions possible. It also allows owners to remain more hands-off without taking away their right to affect the project’s outcome.

4. Self Perform

Construction firms using the self-performing (SP) approach rely on in-house resources instead of subcontractors. This speeds up project completion, which, in turn, increases customer satisfaction, leading to a better reputation for the contractor.

Successful execution of self-performing construction projects requires contractors to plan ahead, establish clear project goals, and monitor progress from start to finish.

The Self Perform method allows owners to work directly with a single company to simplify communication and improve cost savings.

Which Delivery Method Do You Need?

Correctly choosing a project delivery method sets the stage for how all facets of the project will flow, including how teams will communicate, production milestones, and payment disbursements.

So, how do you select the right one?

The primary factors to consider when selecting a delivery method are:

  • Risks & Liability Issues
  • Previous Experience
  • Project Scope
  • Timeline
  • Budget

Trust Your Construction Management to CCI Industrial Constructors

Founded in 1997, CCI Industrial Constructors is an experienced and highly reputable industrial construction contractor serving clients throughout the United States. We provide highly detailed construction management services for all types of projects, including machinery installations, decommissioning, warehouse upgrades, and more. We specialize in all construction delivery methods. 

If you have questions about project delivery or our current capabilities, please contact us today. We can help you determine which delivery method is the best approach for your needs, budget, time frame, and desired level of involvement.