Project Delivery Systems

There is no “best” method for project delivery.  All are appropriate for certain situations.  The main point we wish to convey in this discussion is that we prefer to involve ourselves in projects where our input as contractors can be used to provide benefit to the outcome of each project, regardless of whether we are members of a design-build team, or low bidder on a project which has already been designed.  We tend to reject the traditional relationships which pit contractor against owner and architect as adversaries, even when the contract format or the mindset of the players is organized that way.  We have found repeatedly that if all parties can be shown their common goals, and their focus can be brought to teamwork, that the goals of all members of the team are more easily met, and with cooperation rather than conflict. 




Design-build describes a process in which the General Contractor is the sole contracting entity that the Owner has to deal with throughout the design-development and construction processes.  Under this method of project delivery, the General Contractor, or Design-Builder, is responsible for the development of the design, the final design and construction documents, and all construction activities.  Development of the design usually includes geotechnical services, surveying, civil engineering, structural engineering, architectural design, mechanical and electrical design. 

Criterion General Inc. does not employ any design professionals in-house.  We prefer to reach out to the design community and employ professional consultants for the various design disciplines.  There are many firms in all of the various disciplines with whom we have excellent working relationships.

As to the objectives of the design-build process, there are several key aspects to consider. 

  1. The design-build process can save time. The Owner in a conventional approach must put out design RFP documents, select a design team, wait for the design to be completed, put out bid documents, wait for the bids to come in, and select a contractor. The owner, consultants, and contractor then must go through the submittal, review and approval process. With design-build, after the initial RFP by the owner, all the above processes become nearly simultaneous. It is not uncommon for the design-build approach to save several months over the conventional approach.

  2. The design-build process can save money. In the more conventional approach mentioned above, the owner would have the expense of the full design fees required to prepare bid documents, in addition to any management fees from the consultants. In the design-build approach, the design effort is limited to defining the scope of the project among a selected team, which usually requires far less in the form of specifications, details, and “boiler plate.” The contractor, having the design under his scope, can take the responsibility of the management effort. Design decisions can be made with cost-related input from the contractor, potentially reducing costs.

  3. The design-build process improves cooperation. If the contractor and design professionals have chosen to work together, rather than being “stuck with each other,” as is often the case with low-bid scenarios, overall performance is enhanced for all parties. It is simply more professionally satisfying to get things built with people you have chosen to work with, as opposed to those you are forced to work with.


Design-Assist or Partnering. 

The similarities between this method and the design-build method described above are many, and in reality, we treat these two types of delivery systems the same.  This is historically the most common and popular method of delivery for our projects.   We define partnering as a method for establishing working relationships and understandings among all participants throughout the design-development and construction processes, regardless of who works for whom. 

Often an Owner will come to us with the design team partially formed.  The owner may have already developed a concept, selected his architect, civil engineer and structural engineer.  Criterion may be asked to provide mechanical and electrical design-build services with one of the many excellent subcontractors we work with in each discipline.  We establish a harmonious working relationship with all the stakeholders at the outset of this process, and all are active participants in developing the design, developing the project costs, and constructing and commissioning the project.

All participants are able to bring their expertise to the table and offer guidance for constructability and cost.  As with design-build, all costs are maintained in an open-book format so that the owner can have immediate feedback relative to cost versus value on his or her choices.


Low-Bid or Design-Bid-Build. 

This is the traditional approach to project procurement.  In this method of project delivery, the owner and his or her design team will have completed complete bid and construction documents and competitive cost proposal are solicited.  In the private sector, often the bidding field is limited to several pre-qualified bidders.  In the public sector, any contractor with the appropriate licenses, insurance and bonds may bid.

Many owners feel more comfortable with this method of project delivery because its procedures are well-established, easily understood, and broadly documented.  Furthermore, the owner can be assured he or she is getting the lowest possible cost for the project.

Although we negotiate more projects than we bid competitively, we maintain our skills in this area so that we can continue to offer the most cost effective approach to our clients.



For a variety of reasons a business or organization may elect to enter into a long term lease rather than own their own facility. In these situations Criterion can provide a wide array of assistance. We will establish a new or use one of our existing Limited Liability Companies to own the new facility. This LLC will own the facility when construction is complete and enter into a long term, triple net lease with our client. Our scope of involvement can range from construction or remodel of an already selected and designed site or building to site selection, acquisition, design and construction. We bring the same team approach to these projects that we use for all of our work. We work closely with our clients to make sure that we deliver the maximum value for the available budget.