Time and cost performance of design-build projects

Qing Chen, Zhigang Jin*, Bo Xia, Peng Wu, Martin Skitmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)
265 Downloads (Pure)


The design-build (DB) delivery method has been widely used in the United States due to its reputed superior cost and time performance. However, rigorous studies have produced inconclusive support and only in terms of overall results, with few attempts being made to relate project characteristics with performance levels. This paper provides a larger and more finely grained analysis of a set of 418 DB projects from the online project database of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), in terms of the time-overrun rate (TOR), early start rate (ESR), early completion rate (ECR), and cost overrun rate (COR) associated with project type (e.g., commercial/institutional buildings and civil infrastructure projects), owners (e.g., Department of Defense and private corporations), procurement methods (e.g., best value with discussion and qualifications-based selection), contract methods (e.g., lump sum and GMP) and LEED levels (e.g., gold and silver). The results show best value with discussion to be the dominant procurement method and lump sum the most frequently used contract method. The DB method provides relatively good time performance, with more than 75% of DB projects completed on time or before schedule. However, with more than 50% of DB projects cost overrunning, the DB advantage of cost saving remains uncertain. ANOVA tests indicate that DB projects within different procurement methods have significantly different time performance and that different owner types and contract methods significantly affect cost performance. In addition to contributing to empirical knowledge concerning the cost and time performance of DB projects with new solid evidence from a large sample size, the findings and practical implications of this study are beneficial to owners in understanding the likely schedule and budget implications involved for their particular project characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04015074
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


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