Architect Project Delivery with Design Build Mechanical and Electrical

by Sean O'Hara on June 10, 2016

In a traditional design/bid/build project delivery the architect hires the engineers and the engineering drawings are part of the bid package. With smaller tenant finish projects we are now seeing a scenario where the engineering drawings are being provided design/build by the contractor. The contractor is providing a price for the project based on the architectural drawings and their guess on what the mechanical and electrical requirements are. this is more common in TI because the engineering is limited to MEP. These are generally the implications of design/build engineering:


  • It can go faster because it moves the design time for MEP into the construction phase.
  • There may be cost savings on the engineering fees when they are bundled with the install
  • The contractor will attempt to pick their most cost effective solution


  • The biggest con is that contractors are pricing a guess and the bids are not easily comparable
  • You may be getting a price for the cheapest system rather than the right system
  • If the systems require changes to the architecture you’ll face additional services
  • Some jurisdictions will not allow it

I think that both delivery methods have their place, you just need to make sure that you’re picking a delivery method that is in line with your priorities.

Originally posted 2009-11-14 00:01:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Pat December 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I with with Sean here that it is always nice to have the delivery be as integrated as possible.

Sean O'Hara November 16, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Yes, its always preferable to have a more integrated delivery method where the building and systems are fully integrated into the design process.

Dean Dalvit November 16, 2009 at 9:41 am

I would add that one more very serious con is that the necessary coordination with the MEP design with the architectural design is often overlooked. That scope needs to be clearly defined as to who is responsible for checking for conformance with the plans because the engineers generally don’t do that and the contractor rarely wants to take responsibility for it either. Meanwhile, the Architect is not in charge of the engineering in this delivery method, and therefore technically carries no responsibility for it. As a result, it can slip through the cracks and problems in the field will certainly arise. At a minimum, if you choose to go this route, insist that the contractor retain the architect for coordination services during construction.

Leave a Comment