Benefits of Design Assist vs Design Build

“When involved in either a design assist or design build delivery, our main goal is speed to market and ensuring the job is completed ahead of schedule and within a defined budget” – Steve Bowers, President/COO

What is the difference between Design Assist and Design Build?

EZARC Pre Construction Tesla Design AssistDesign assist and design build are two different kinds of delivery methods. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses to be considered. Design assist is focused on a collaboration between design and construction partners. Design build has design and construction handled by a single company. Our goal in this article is to walk through each method and outline both the pros and cons. We will also be walking through how EZARC approaches each of these and our capabilities to work in either capacity.

Design Assist


Design Assist is where trade partners are brought in to provide information and solutions to assist the design/engineering of record meet the challenges and demands of a particular project. The idea is to have collaboration between multiple teams up front. This helps better coordinate the design with views from multiple parties and all angles of the project. The traditional design-bid-build model keeps the design team working separately from the construction team. Designs are then passed to contractors for completion. The goal of design-assist is to involve all contractors early so unique problems can be identified early by a specialist for each trade involved.


Having insight early in the design process allows a contractor more visibility into the project. Each contractor can view the designs and find any problems before the project has started. Reducing change orders and requests for information are key for cost-efficient builds, and design-assist is a great way to accomplish that.

As the AISC outlines, “Design Assist promises many benefits. Communication between the design and construction teams is often improved, and coordination activities often happen at an earlier stage when problems can be solved easier. Change orders and requests for information are often reduced and constructability issues can be identified early on. Owners often see cost and scheduling benefits as costs can be locked in early and materials can be procured and assembled more quickly”.

While design-assist could be used on projects both large and small, it is typically best for large, complex projects. It is also used for projects that have a short design and construction window.

Potential Difficulties

When considering Design assist, a couple factors to consider include added cost of bringing contractors in early and lengthier design phase. While ideally those cover themselves with fewer change orders and a more efficient construction process, the most important thing to consider is design liability.

Be sure to lock down the roles, obligations and deliverables from each member of the design-assist team and that it is clearly documented. Ultimately, the liability of the design should be on the design professional. Careful review of the contracts will clarify if that is the case. Everybody needs to know exactly what role and level of responsibility they are stepping into.


Design Build


The full responsibility of design and construction are given solely to one contractor. This is different from the typical design-bid-build where the design and construction are separated into two contracts and awarded to separate companies. Design-build is unique from design-assist as the process is done by one company instead of a collaboration of multiple companies.


Design Build encourages efficiency by removing layers of communication throughout the process of the project. The result is typically faster turnaround times and a quicker design process. In most cases, you can also expect an earlier understanding of what the cost of the project will be. Since the single company is handling the whole process, the price can get discussed after the design phase without having to go through a bidding process. Based on the company you are working with; you should expect fewer changes.

When EZARC performs a design-build contract, we involve each member of the team from preconstruction through final delivery to ensure we think through the entire process. Similar to the benefits of design-assist, we make sure the designs are reviewed by multiple parties to ensure accurate estimates and any potential risks are thought through beforehand.

Potential Difficulties

A high level of trust is required between parties when involved in a design-build method. Since the project relies solely on one company, everything is contingent on their level of expertise.


Overall, both methods can be a great fit for a job, depending on the unique circumstances. Each has pros and cons, with the size/complexity and schedule of the project being a major factor on the best method for a particular job. EZARC has the capability to fill the role of either method. We do design-assist on very large, complex projects and can do a full design-build method on other projects. Our focus is always to be a reliable partner providing our clients with predictable outcomes. We take a fine-tooth comb through everything up front. Fast and accurate estimates with a focus on speed to market delivery separates us from our competition.

You can reach out to EZARC for more information by contacting us here.


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