DBIA releases long-awaited updates to its design-build guide

The Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) has released highly anticipated updates to its Design-Build Done Right® Universal Best Practices, which was first released in 2014. Photo courtesy DBIA.

The Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) has released updates to its Design-Build Done Right Universal Best Practices, which was first released in 2014.

DBIA updated the guide in response to the continued growth and evolution of the design-build and architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry at large. As an organization dedicated to whole-team success, DBIA considered a variety of stakeholders to ensure the update included all perspectives. If implemented, DBIA’s best practices significantly increase the chances of project and team success.

Design-build is a single point of responsibility contract and a cultural shift in the way a team works together, which is why education is important in promoting successful design-build projects. The DBIA Design-Build Done Right® Universal Best Practices provide the foundation for the education and guidance needed for successful projects and to support the continued growth of design-build.

The 2023 best practices incorporate several changes, reflecting the current state and projected growth of design-build, equipping project teams with vital guidance for delivering good design-build and creating consistency in expectations for design-build projects. More broadly, technological advancements, lessons learned during a global pandemic, societal change, and industry shifts over the last several years are also included, as well as necessitated updated recommendations for design-build. Highlights include:

  • Addition of guiding principles that serve as an anchor for the best practices in universal ethical conduct, demonstrated competence, sustainable professional development, and supporting diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI).
  • Enhanced focus on the role of industry practitioners—not just owners—and how they can further contribute to project and team success.
  • Better organization and visual flow of content.
  • Clear distinction between a best value procurement approach versus progressive design-build.

Establishing best practices for design-build increases the chances of successful and truly collaborative project outcomes for all stakeholders, and the perspectives of those stakeholders were vital to informing the 2023 best practices.

DBIA consulted owners, contractors, designers, educators ,and attorneys, carefully considering their comments and experiences. In addition, it carefully assessed input from related industry associations to ensure a broad range of contexts—including Construction Owners Association of America (COAA), Associated General Contractors (ACG), American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Project Delivery Knowledge Community, among others.

“With the growth of design-build, we are thankful to our related industry associations who provided critical feedback on these updates. Their input helped provide balanced perspectives that drive continued cost, schedule performance, and triple bottom-line success for design-build projects and teams,” says DBIA executive director and CEO Lisa Washington, CAE.

These updated best practices will inform changes to DBIA’s core curriculum which serves as the basis of the institute’s design-build certification program. Updates to both the curriculum and certification exam are anticipated in the latter half of 2024.

Further, with the expanded use of and interest in progressive design-build across the nation, DBIA has also released a resource titled, Deeper Dive – Progressive Design-Build, that delves into the nuances of this approach.

Both the Design-Build Done Right® Universal Best Practices and Deeper Dive – Progressive Design-Build, along with many other Design-Build Done Right® resources, can be downloaded from the DBIA bookstore at no cost.

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