The Most Common Ways To Build Your House

The 3 Most Common Project Delivery Methods to Help You Decide

The building industry can be very confusing. Who does what? There are SO many services and materials needed for even the simplest home remodel. And there are SO many places to get them!

For example, Company A offers design AND build services, they'll take care of you from start to finish. While Company B offers only floor plan design services and then the owner must find others to do the rest. Or how about Company C, a builder who dabbles in design and is very confident in her abilities.

Who do you choose? Which process is the best? Well, I can't tell you that. But I CAN help you weigh the positives and negatives. 

*project delivery method= the process (system) by which you get your house (or other structure) built!

Who to hire for your new home @MeldrumDesign

1. Design > Award > Build

DAB is the most traditional delivery method. The Homeowner works closely with the Designer to create a plan and drawings. Then the Homeowner and/or Designer requests proposals from Builders. The Homeowner awards the project to the Builder of their choice and the Builder builds the thing! Most design decisions are made before a Contractor is involved.


  • High level of owner participation. You'll get the design you want.

  • Construction bids are based on complete Design Documents. You'll get an accurate price.

  • Simple project scheduling. You'll know what part of the process you're in and what comes next.


  • High level of owner participation. This is going to be time consuming.

  • You'll spend some time in design before finding out construction cost.

  • Contractor can't weigh in during design, making this delivery method the least efficient.

2. Construction Management

The CM delivery method is for hands-off Homeowners. The Homeowner hires a building expert, the Construction Manager, to manage the entire project. Usually CM delivery is DAB delivery in disguise. The Construction Manager facilitates the process of design > bid > award > build. 

There are two types of Construction Managers:

1. Owner Agent- They manage the various contracts but do not have any financial responsibility for the project. They handle the non-construction type activities.

2. Contractor Manager- They have a vendor relationship with the Homeowner and assume financial responsibility for construction of the project. Essentially, they are a well-rounded Contractor who gets involved early in design or Designer who stays involved through construction.


  • VERY low level of owner participation. You get to be around for the fun stuff. Leave the dirty and annoying decisions to the expert.

  • Single person oversees the entire process. This means fewer errors throughout.

  • Easier to track liability when one person is fully informed.

  • Process is much smoother and quicker when one person manages the schedule.

  • Constructibility issues are resolved before construction begins.

  • Facilitates Fast-Track Construction.*


  • Construction Managers are experienced experts. You may pay a hefty fee.

  • You must trust another person to make decisions on your behalf.

  • There can be conflicts. Each party's responsibilities must be clearly defined in writing.

3. Design / Build

DB means hiring one company to design AND build your house. The Homeowner meets with the DB company at the beginning and periodically throughout the process but, for the most part, the DB company has got it handled... Word to the wise, DO NOT go cheap on a Design/Build firm. They have your life in their hands.


  • Low level of owner participation. Let someone else handle it!

  • Single source of responsibility. You always know who to turn to with questions.

  • Construction cost is defined early. It's easier to evaluate the design when you know the cost.

  • Fewer conflicts between Designer and Builder.

  • Constructibility issues are resolved before construction begins.

  • Facilitates Fast-Track Construction.*


  • Low level of owner participation. You may not get the absolutely perfect design. (To combat this, you could hire a Designer for the Schematic Floor Plan. Then you can hand that off to a DB firm)

  • The DB company is more like a vendor than your agent. They are looking out for their own interests rather than the Homeowner's. You must be very aware of the DB contract and how it's executed throughout your project.

So those are the basics!  

BUT, there's a project delivery method I didn't tell you about. And it's the BEST one: Collaborative Construction. Check it out HERE.

*Fast Track Construction: When construction begins before every detail of the design is worked out.