Assignment of design to constructors: A discussion and direction

Collaborative or deferred design?

This table lists several forms of deferred design and the professionals involved. Images courtesy Dialog
Figure 1: This table lists several forms of deferred design and the professionals involved.
Photos courtesy Dialog

Collaborative design requires the involvement of a supporting registered professional or supporting certified/qualified contributor for elements of design:

  • the RPR does not have in-house;
  • required to form a part of the construction documentation; and
  • required to provide a complete solution to the constructor.

Collaborative design can be delivered using design‑assist process before bid through pre‑qualification or after bid as a cash allowance (Figure 1).

Design-assist before bid is typically obtained using a request for proposals (RFP) process in which the building elements and components are clearly defined by non-product specific performance attributes with a stated intent to form a contract with the successful collaborative design-assist partner, and which incorporates a methodology to return to open bidding opportunity if the design solutions process was not beneficial to project outcomes. This process is administered by the design professional and may entail early payment by the owner for design solutions that would otherwise occur during the construction period.

Design-assist after contract award can also be obtained through the RFP process during construction using similar documentation as described for the before-bid process, but administered through a cash allowance to recognize contractual obligation to identify design solutions that are not complete, and that will be determined during the construction period and administered by the constructor.

Deferred design is any design not completed in-house and represents specialist contributions not forming a part of the expertise of the RPR. Deferred design may involve solutions requiring engineering support from a registered professional (delegated design) or non‑engineering solutions from a supporting certified/qualified contributor (assigned design).

Delegated-design solutions require specific input from a professional engineer retained by the constructor, supplier, fabricator, or manufacturer. The difference with assigned-design solutions is, while they also require specific input from a specialist retained by constructor, supplier, fabricator, or manufacturer, they do not require input from a professional engineer. There are components in the deferred design process that may require aspects of delegated and assigned design. These must be identified in the documents.


Registered professional: The entity defined by building codes as having responsibility for architectural, engineering, or interior design, and defined by state-level regulations and statutes as having professional responsibility for life and health safety for construction.

Coordinating professional of record: The entity responsible for engaging and coordinating the various registered professionals of record for design solutions required for the project, as defined by building codes.

Registered professional of record: The entity responsible for providing integral design and review of work specific to their area of discipline expertise, contributing to the whole of the project under the supervision of the coordinating professional of record.

Supporting registered professional: Similar responsibilities as the registered professional of record. Services are obtained as a component of construction deliverables to provide professional engineering design solutions for components of work not part of the in-house expertise of the coordinating registered professional or the registered professionals of record.

Supporting certified/qualified contributors: Non-professional certified or qualified contributors providing specialist design solutions obtained as a component of construction deliverables. These contributors provide design solutions for components of work that do not form a part of the in-house expertise of the coordinating registered professional or the registered professionals of record.

The deferred design process can include aspects of actionable and informational review of submittals, depending on the allocation of delegated design or assigned design, and which design profession discipline is involved with the aspect of the review. Deferred design may require the application of multiple submittal review stamps where two or more design professionals are involved with the review.

Managing the design process

Deferred design is completed by supporting registered professionals or supporting certified/qualified contributors who can provide supplementary supporting engineering, knowledgeable contributions, or architectural services for components of a defined discipline’s contribution during the construction phase of the project, provided they can submit appropriate assurances of their ability to design these components based on engineering provided by the design professional of record.

Collaborative design is similar in concept to deferred design, but occurs during production of the construction documents, where the supporting registered professionals’ contributions are fully incorporated by the RPR prior to the construction phase.

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