The pros and cons of design-build hotel projects
The pros and cons of design-build hotel projects
04 APRIL 2016 7:21 AM

Design-build is considered to be a successful alternative to the traditional design-bid-build project delivery method. Is this method right for your hotel project?

Over the past few years, there has been rising interest in the use of design-build in the construction of hotel projects. The term “design-build” refers to the method of project delivery in which the designers and contractors work together as a team under one single contract with the owner to provide their services.

In the traditional delivery of a project, the owner is responsible for managing two separate contracts. This can often lead to the owners having to act as the middlemen, settling any potential disputes between the designer and the contractor. In addition, if there are any problems in cost overruns, the designer and contractor can easily blame one another for the increase in costs.

Design-build is considered to be a successful alternative to the traditional design-bid-build project delivery method. To figure out if this type of construction model is right for your project, all parties involved (owners, designers and contractors) must understand the advantages and disadvantages of the process.

Advantages of design-build delivery
There are many advantages of using design-build construction to carry out a project. For example, because the contractor is involved from the start of the project and the owner has a single entity that is responsible for the work, the designer and the contractor can act as a team and start off with a clear and shared understanding of the project. This can significantly enhance the overall coordination of the project.

The design-build process also helps to keep projects on schedule and within budget. These two components are common challenges that many owners face, but with the design-build method it’s easier to control the budget and timeline due to the fact that the design and construction work overlap each other. This also mitigates any headaches mid-project, because all of the key players are working together.

Likewise, having a single point of contact helps to reduce the amount of paperwork involved in a construction project. Carrying out administrative work can be extremely time consuming for owners, but because the owner is only dealing with the contractor as a single-point of contact, the amount of administrative work owners have to fill out is greatly reduced.

Disadvantages of design-build delivery
While design-build construction has many advantages, it’s important to point out the possible drawbacks of using this method compared to that of a traditional delivery project model.

For example, owners typically have less involvement and control of the design because the designer represents the design-build contractor’s interests and not the owner’s. This can present a problem if the owner wants to be particularly hands-on.

Similarly, design-build also can pose a challenge if the owner is looking to get a second opinion or input from either the designer or the contractor. Because the designer’s contract is with the contractor and not the owner, the designer might be less inclined to offer suggestions, as it could overstep the relationship with the contractor.

It’s important to point out that while most contractors believe in delivering quality projects to their clients, there’s a chance that when they use the design-build method that quality might suffer due to the contractor’s incentives. To help reduce this risk, owners must be aware of the type of materials both the contractor and designer are using while also monitoring the progress.

Staying on budget and schedule is critical to many projects, but if a project is moving too quickly, there’s room for error, which decreases the value of the project.

As a Senior Principal at BBGM, Bahram Kamali has been involved with many projects from the conceptual design phase through to completion and has over 25 years of experience in the industry. His specialties include hospitality, residential and office building projects. BBGM is an internationally renowned architecture and interior design firm with extensive expertise in the design of government facilities, office buildings, hotels, resorts, high-rise residential, retail, mixed use complexes, master plans for development, and renovation/restoration projects. BBGM was founded in 1987 and has offices in Washington, DC and Scottsdale, Arizona that provide services both domestically and internationally. To contact Bahram, you can email him at

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

No Comments

Comments that include blatant advertisements or links to products or company websites will be removed to avoid instances of spam. Also, comments that include profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, solicitations or advertising, or other similarly inappropriate or offensive comments or material will be removed from the site. You are fully responsible for the content you post. The opinions expressed in comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Please report any violations to our editorial staff.