Understanding Construction Project Delivery Methods

Experience shows misunderstandings are common with regard to project delivery methods by owners, designers and contractors and how to select one for a project.

The four major project delivery methods in general use today are as follows:

  • Design-Bid-Build, aka general contracting
  • Design-Build
  • Construction Management (Agency or at-Risk)

Carl A. Nelson & Company has significant experience in all the various delivery methods, and is able to help clients determine which method is best for their project, then provide pre-construction and/or construction services to achieve the project's goals.

Choosing a delivery method

Selection of the project delivery method can be driven by company practices and policies and for public owners, laws and regulations regardless of the effectiveness of the delivery method. In some organizations, the practices and policies that drive decision-making are designed for purchasing commodities for manufacturing operations and might not always be appropriate for acquiring project-related services and products.

Depending on your Ownership type — public or private — your ability to access some delivery methods may be limited by legal restrictions that vary from state to state. Private owners have a broader choice of delivery methods, and can choose Design-Build, Construction Management at-Risk or General Contracting, where we are able to self-perform much of the work. State law dictates means of construction procurement for public owners, and can vary by jurisdiction. In Iowa, for instance, the Legislature added Construction Management at-Risk for public owners in 2022, but took away access to Design-Build by state universities.

One of the most impactful consequences of choosing a delivery method is whether the Owner will have the opportunity to take advantage of the builder's experience on cost, schedule and constructability with respect to architectural and engineering design. General Contracting typically does not make this experience available to Owners, while Design-Build and Construction Management both feature the builder's ability to make an impact on cost, schedule and quality through pre-construction services.


Click below to learn more, and to see examples of Carl A. Nelson & Company projects in each:



Ready to choose?

Now that you have reviewed your delivery options, contact Carl A. Nelson & Company to get started on your next project. Call (319) 754-8415 and ask for Dan Culp, the Director of Business Development; or write to him at dculp@carlanelsonco.com. Or fill out the contact form below. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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