Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build: A Clear Choice

In your search for someone to remodel or build your Houston home, you may have come across the phrases “design-builder” and “general contractor.” But what’s the difference, and which is better? 

There are two main ways to go about a construction or remodeling project. 

1) One is to hire an architect to create design plans, which are then given to a general contractor to carry out, who may then bring in subcontractors, as well. As you can see, a lot of parties get involved and the potential for longer waits and higher costs go up. This is called design-bid-build

2) The second method is called design-build. Here, instead of separating the designer from the people doing the actual building, the two tasks are brought under one roof in one company. There’s no disconnect between theoretical design and real-world costs and challenges, and while there may still be subcontractors involved, you only have to deal with one company that’s responsible for the project from start to finish.  

Legal Eagle Contractors are design-builders. 


Design-build vs design-bid-build project delivery structure comparison

We may be biased, but we believe this method offers the best experience for our customers. Take a look at some of the differences between design-build (DB) and design-bid-build (DBB) and we think you’ll agree.

Design-Build By the Numbers

delivery than DBB1
0 % faster
than DBB2
0 % cheaper
to experience schedule growth
0 % less likely

Legal Eagle Contractors’ Design-Build Process


Initial Meetings

  • Interviewing design-builder

  • Introducing architect

  • Discussing budget, design preferences, priorities, and goals


Preliminary Design Drawings

  • Sharing our 3D design plans 

  • Making any desired plan changes and revisions


Construction Cost Estimating

  • Obtaining estimates from major subcontractors on preliminary design

  • Discussing preliminary costs on project and budget

  • Selecting products with our design-selections coordinator


Construction Drawings

  • Generating additional construction drawing plans with professional engineer


Final Project Estimate

  • Accepting final subcontractor bids based on final drawings

  • Finalizing product allowances/selections

  • Reviewing drawings, costs, and scope of work with client

  • Signing contract



  • Filing application for building permit



  • Introducing project Manager

  • Completing our “Preconstruction Checklist”

  • Reviewing scope of work on-site with the project designer, selections coordinator, and clients

  • Discuss initial schedule, working hours, storage of materials, hauling of debris, staging of selections, and other items on the checklist



  • Site preparation and demolition

  • Project Manager walking the site with specifications in hand, with each trade to perform work on the job

Design-build vs design-bid-build process steps comparison

Design-Bid-Build Problems: A Few Examples


Example A: A Clueless Architect

You want to build a new home and hire architect Bob Budgetbuster to design your plans. You tell Bob your budget is $500,000, and pay him $10,000 for his services. He draws up plans with elaborate fixtures and features, with no actual idea of how they will affect the budget. Sure enough, when you seek bids from general contractors, one after the other estimates your home will cost roughly $850,000 to build. Bob blames the builders for charging too much, and no builders will do the job for your budget. Your $10,000 plans are useless and you must either start over from scratch or abandon the project.  


Example B: Bamboozled by a Bid

You are taking bids from general contractors for your home remodel. Instead of getting references and verifying their insurance coverage as due diligence, you get three bids and select the contractor who gave you the lowest bid, Dirt Cheep Homes. Unfortunately, because they know how the design-bid-build process goes, Dirt Cheep has made a habit of underestimating their costs so they can win contracts. This leads to them coming to you with your home half-built demanding $50,000 more to finish the project.  


Example C: Who’s at Fault?

You’re relieved that you finally got your home project finished, until there’s a hard rain and you come home to find water has come in and ruined some of your belongings because there was an error in construction. You demand the general contractor fix the problem, but he blames the architect’s plans for being faulty. The architect says his plans were preliminary drawings only, so therefore he can’t be held liable. You opt to sue the contractor, but this means hiring an attorney. You also have to hire a different contractor to fix the issue while you wait for the case to be resolved, hoping you win so that you don’t have to pay the new builders out of your own pocket.  

Head-to-Head: Design-Build vs Design-Bid-Build

  Design-Build Design-Bid-Build
Number of contacts for you 1 2 or more
Selection phases 1 2
Most streamlined communication X
Fewest change orders X
Most accurate completion date and cost estimates from builder X
Most efficient workflow X
Risk of infighting and finger-pointing among team No Yes
Responsible party for design plan completeness Design-builder Homeowner

Get Started Today!

SCHEDULE free consultation