The Differences in Construction Delivery Methods

Written by Compton Construction on . Posted in Blog, News


When you think about construction, some instantly picture a “bob the builder” in a hard hat and overalls. Believe it or not, the industry is slightly different than that. The terms “General Contractor,” Construction Management,” and “Design Build” often get thrown around interchangeably. Although there are some similarities, when you break them down, they don’t offer clients the same amount of service, or necessarily meet the needs of their business. Below are the things you need to know, and how to distinguish what service you might need for your construction project.

General Contractor (GC)

Some think of Design-Bid-Build when thinking about a general contractor.   Typically an owner starts by hiring and holding the contract for an architect. The architect will then create beautiful renderings, drawings, and plans for the space. The General Contractor is then involved once the construction documents (Contract documents) are complete, typically with limited or no say in design direction. The General Contractor is then contractually bound to build exactly what is on the drawings. Deviations from the drawings result in change orders, which cost more money/fees, and add time to the project, often caused by unknown field conditions not addressed on the drawings. Additionally, if the bids are over budget, the process “starts over” and the drawings will be revised, and then rebid, adding time and money to the overall process.

Example Scenario: See our Process. 

  1. Owner has an idea
  2. Owner Hires an Architect/Interior Designer to Conceptualize the space
  3. Construction documents (some think of “blueprints”) completed
  4. Compton Construction bids on drawings
  5. Real cost of work defined
  6. Compton Construction builds what is on the plans


Construction Management (CM)

Typically, a Construction Manager is chosen based on specialty or merit, and brought on earlier in the construction planning process, at some point before the construction drawings are completed. This allows for the Construction Manager to have influence on constructability, schedule, and budget as the design moves forward. This process is a better guide for your schedule and budget, and allows for better communication between all parties early on in the process.

Example Scenario: See our Process. 

  1. Owner has an idea
  2. Owner Hires an Architect/Interior Designer to Conceptualize the space
  3. Compton Construction is hired to review constructability, establish schedule, and form a conceptual budget
  4. Construction documents (some think of “blueprints”) completed – with Guidance from Compton Construction
  5. Compton Construction builds what is on the plans


Design Build

In Design Build, the client starts with selecting the general contractor to lead the entire project, from preconstruction through completion.  In this delivery method, the general contractor holds most of the responsibility for ensuring your timeline, budget, and goals are met. With everything funneling though the general contractor, the client has one contact, and it removes some owner responsibilities and eliminates the liability gap caused by two separate design and construction contracts.

Example Scenario: See our Process. 

  1. Owner has an idea
  2. Owner hires Compton Construction to brainstorm idea, goals, schedule, and your budget
  3. Compton Construction responsible for design contract (in-house or Hires Achitect/Interior Designer), and leads team toward defined goals
  4. Construction documents (some think of “blueprints”) completed
  5. Compton Construction builds to your goal, desires and vision


SALES PITCH: There are Pros and Cons to every delivery method, and construction isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Let us be a resource in helping decide the best scenario for your project! Learn more about the benefits and disadvantages by speaking with a construction expert.

Speak With An Expert

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