Design-Build Contractors


To identify the attitudes and journey related to design-build contractors and how they make decisions when it comes to which HVAC providers they decide to use for their projects.

Early Findings

Values and Characteristics

  • Design-build contractors aim to foster collaboration and teamwork.
  • When working on a project, an integrated design-build team works to "complete a project faster, more cost-effectively, and with optimized project quality," suggesting skills in time management and budgeting.
  • "Change orders and disputes are rare in well organized, performance-based design-build projects." This indicates ability in conflict resolution or management.
  • Design-build contractors typically work with "parties they have an affinity with" which allows them the opportunity to coordinate and optimize both design and construction.
  • "In successful design-build projects, everyone makes the mental shift to think and act as a single entity."
  • "Design-build is intended to be a highly collaborative, fully integrated process that is built on trust, mutual respect, teamwork, innovation, and creative problem-solving. "

Pain Points

  • "Design/Build places the responsibility for design errors and omissions on the Design/Builder, relieving the owner of major legal and managerial responsibilities."
  • The burden of costs and associated risks are transferred to the Design/Build team.
  • A benchmarking and claims study found that from 1995-2004, only 1.3% of construction claims were made against DB contractors.
  • These findings suggest that there may be more pressure on design/build contractors due to their high level of responsibility and the need to deal with costs and risks. However, they are skilled enough to minimize any issues, since there are few claims against them.

HVAC Procurement

  • National Design/Build Services (NDBS) uses the design-build approach as a "commonsense approach to designing, fabricating and installing sophisticated HVAC systems that will cost less than traditional methods."
  • Their engineers use "building information modeling (BIM) and 3D modeling to make accurate plans that take into account the exact specifications and requirements of each building when designing an HVAC system."
  • They invest time in their planning process to ensure that "any problems are eliminated during the construction process and avoid mistakes that can result in extra, unexpected costs."
  • This suggests that they are thorough and careful with their planning and decision-making, and use technological tools when they decide on HVAC solutions.


  • For the initial hour, we tried identifying as much of the requested information as possible. We were able to find some initial insights specifically from the perspective of design-build contractors. We included insights relevant to their values, an understanding of their process and decision-making, and some insights on HVAC procurement.
  • Most of the insights were based on publications from the Design-Build Institute of America, which is "the true authority on Design-Build Done Right."
  • However, insights specific to the journey on how design-build contractors make decisions when it comes to which HVAC providers they decide to use for their project appeared limited or were not publicly available.
  • One alternate research path would be to look at the top HVAC companies/providers in the U.S. and to see their value proposition. The top HVAC companies likely provide HVAC solutions to design-build contractors. Another option would be to identify insights on building information modeling (BIM) since this is a method used by design-build contractors when it comes to HVAC systems.
  • Feel free to select or add an option below.

Research proposal:

Only the project owner can select the next research path.
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