Design–build (or design/build) is a project delivery system commonly used in the construction industry that has become increasingly popular. In a design-build project, the property owner can enter into a single contract with one entity (the “design-builder”) that will provide both construction and design services. In case you’re wondering whether the design-build method is right for you, we’ve come up with the following summary of its basic advantages/disadvantages and how this method is applied under Louisiana law.

Advantages of Using the Design-Build Method

The design-build method comes with several important advantages. Through this method, there is just one contractual relationship to navigate. It generally allows for faster construction and delivery, as materials and site work usually begin before construction is fully complete. The design-build method also allows for a slower cost and schedule growth. There is less conflict involved because you work with one team with a single contract, which allows you to avoid burdensome disputes between the designer and contractor. Overall, for most construction projects, this method can reduce time and save cost.

Disadvantages of Using the Design-Build Method

While the design-build method seems to make sense, there are some key points to consider if you decide to use it. The property owner may lose some control over the design process as the contractor is generally given flexibility with design. Another disadvantage to the property owner (but potentially an advantage to the contractor) is a less competitive playing field. Not every company can put together an efficient and effective design-build team.

For contractors, these are some of the pitfalls of the design-build method that specifically apply to you. Firstly, though you are generally not legally liable for design flaws unless you know and/or should have known about them, with a design-build contract you may find yourself in some hot water in case of any design deficiency. In a design-build relationship, the contractor may be liable for design flaws even if he hires a design professional to assist him on the project.

How Does Louisiana Law Apply to the Design-Build Method?

Under Louisiana law, the design-build method is generally permissible for private construction projects, though certain exceptions do apply. When it comes to public projects, however, the design-build construction method is not permitted, with the exception of certain statutory loopholes. For instance, Louisiana has allowed the use of some design-build contracts by certain public entities on public projects for areas damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Generally, however, the design-build method is only allowed in the private arena. If you’re not sure about whether you fit into of these statutory exceptions or if the design-build method is generally right for you, please contact the attorneys at Smiley Law today.

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