A New Way To Think About Design-Build 

Posted on November 30, 2020 •

What is Design-Build? 

Design-build is a project delivery method where both design and construction services are completed under a single contract. In contrast to a design-bid-build approach, design-build centralizes and simplifies the process by offering owners one point of contact for the project from concept to completion. 

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Our ProcessDesign-Build + MEP Trade Experts 

As an MEP subcontractor, Mark III’s Design-Build process is uniqueIn order to provide our customers with expert knowledge across many industries, we have elected to maintain minimal in-house designJust as we have experts across the MEP trades, we have handpicked and built strong relationships with mechanical and electrical engineers who specialize in one or more of the market segments we typically build:  industrial, food and beverage, healthcare, and higher education. This allows us to strategically collaborate with specific engineers based on the type of project, ensuring the best team for each project.

We are able to seek out specialized engineers and assign specific MEP trade specialists based on project type because contracts are awarded prior to team selection. Projects are typically awarded through negotiation, rather than a bid process. There are several types of construction contracts, but for design-build, there are three common types: design-only, design-assist, and design-build. 

Contract Types 
  • Design-Only – Mark III outsources the design and manages MEP coordination and internal reviews for constructability. Construction contracts are awarded at the completion of the design. 
  • Design Assist – Designers are hired by a general contractor, architect, or owner while Mark III is responsible for internal reviews for constructability, budget, MEP coordination, and on-site MEP construction.
  • Design-Build Mark III is hired by a general contractor, architect, or owner for the design and internal reviews for constructability, budget, and MEP coordination throughout the design phase. Once complete, Mark III is responsible for on-site MEP construction. 
  • Target Value Design (TVD) – A target budget is estimated and established at the conceptual design phaseOnce determined, Mark III’s MEP estimators and the selected design team collaborate to ensure the targeted budget is achieved.
  • Progressive Design-Build (PDB) – Mark III is hired as a key member of a design-build team. Design is broken into two phases, preliminary or preconstruction services and construction. In the preliminary or preconstruction phase, project and owner requirements are transformed into a design proposal. Once approved by the ownerthe design is finalized, and the construction phase begins. 

Benefits of Design-Build with Mark III


Utilizing a design-build approach condenses, and sometimes eliminates segments of the bidding and design process that are otherwise required in a design-bid-build model. This allows us to estimate costs concurrently with design, expediting the overall process. 

Opportunities for schedule savings include: 

  • Factoring lead-time into equipment selection 
  • Design phase constructability reviews to identify clashes or issues prior to construction
  • Completing product submittals and shop drawings concurrently with design to streamline the process
  • Eliminating rework by leveraging MEP trade specialist’s expertise prior to final design approval 

As an MEP sub-contractor, we are able to capitalize on these opportunities early in the project because we have control over construction and design. 


Design-build eliminates multiple profit layers and minimizes many design-phase costs, making the process more accurate and cost-effective. These cost savings can be found in many aspects of the process, including: 

  • Fewer organizations involved, less overhead cost 
  • Fewer opportunities for miscommunication across organizations 
  • Fewer change orders 
  • Eliminate designer’s construction administration costs 

These factors help to decrease billable hours, overall job costs and, importantly, minimize costly disputes. 

Expertise & Leveraging Market Experts 

We have strategically selected and built relationships with design firms who have strong backgrounds within our typical market segments: 

This is great for Mark III and our customers because we can take advantage of each engineers strengths and expertise. Outsourcing allows us to have a bigger bench of engineers while leveraging their specialized experience and qualifications to suit the project. 


We minimize areas of risk and have found that the best way to do this is for Mark III to have complete ownership over the MEP trades and all major utilities. By providing both construction and design services, finger-pointing and grey areas in scope are eliminated. Historically these issues are areas in the scope that plague projects and slow down production.  

Work With Us 

Consider hiring Mark III for your next project, we can show you how together, we can foster a more collaborative environment between owners, designers, and sub-contractors while decreasing cost and project duration.  

Check out more of our project portfolio and contact us today to discuss your next project! 

Mark III’s Design-Build Experience: At A Glance 

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Largest Design-Build Project To Date:  https://mark-three.com/projects/vision-service-plan-optical-lab-clean-room/ 

Awards: Manufacturing Award of Merit – VSP Optical Laboratory & Manufacturing Facility

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