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At Bell Construction Company, we find that most construction projects include people with different occupations, goals and responsibilities such as an owner, designer and builder. However, the methods of contract organization known as delivery methods may differ from one company to another depending on project scope, details, and needs.

The project delivery method defines the relationship between parties involved such as an owner, designer and contractor. It also defines when and how they will fulfill their obligations and responsibilities to each other.

Ensuring that the process is clearly defined before construction begins can help alleviate potential misunderstandings and miscommunications thereby helping the project progress more smoothly. It sets clear expectations for everyone involved, including payment processes and schedule details.

Choosing a delivery method and contract format that is best for a customer’s project is an important decision, and one that can impact the project’s ultimate success; it should be propsed and agreed upon early in the planning phase. Project variables like project scope, risks and liability issues, timeline, budget, and previous experience should be considered for making the best choice.

The following is a comparison of five project delivery methods we routinely use at Bell Construction Company during our construction process.


  • Project conception, design, and planning
  • Building permits
  • Procurement
  • Pre-construction phase
  • Necessary for developing a formal approach in calculating costs, scope, and schedules for project execution
  • Critical to the project, and it is during this phase where the project team is assembled and align the foundation of the project and a communication structure
  • A poor foundation and communication structure leads to gaps and potential project delays

Construction Management

  • Involves taking a hands-on approach from the initial design phase all the way to the final walkthrough
  • Often referred to as construction management at risk (CMAR)
  • Ensures that everyone develops a mutual understanding of the owner’s vision, the design intent, and the project plans well before the actual construction begins
  • Construction managers typically work with a combination of in-house personnel and specialized subcontractors
  • Work with building planners, site surveyors, and designers during the earliest stages of project development to guarantee a well-organized, consistent approach that delivers projects on time and within budget

Design Build

  • Work on commercial construction projects from their inception to their completion
  • Provides flexibility and competitive bidding through different contracting and procurement approaches, including selecting the best value, qualification-based selection, and extensive design-build growth, among others
  • Adds efficiency and effectiveness to the process
  • Challenges include the potential for conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency


  • Final walkthrough
  • Punch list completion
  • Closeout documentation
  • Warranty period

General Contracting

  • The most commonly used method for completing construction projects
  • Consists of three distinct phases: the design phase, the bid phase, and the build phase
  • A good option for new commercial construction
  • Once the winning bid has been selected, the build phase begins, and the general contractor’s team can get to work constructing the new facility
  • The designer will oversee the work of the general contractor and subcontractors to ensure that the owner receives a quality end product

Each project delivery method has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Owners, with the aide of their general contractor or construction manager, should complete an in-depth comparison of these five delivery methods to determine which method is right for their particular project.

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