Progressive Design-Build Projects & Contracts

Progressive Design-Build

Intro to Design-Build

When operating under traditional project delivery models such as Design-Bid-Build, the owner holds separate contracts with the design team and the construction team. The lack of contract-forced communication between the design and build teams forces the owner to serve as an in-between and also leads to rework as the two teams fail to properly coordinate their efforts.

Design-Build is gaining popularity as an alternative delivery method, with nearly half of all construction projects now using it. One of the main reasons for this is that it produces results: Design-Build (and by extension, Progressive Design-Build) performs far better when it comes to cost and quality of the project delivered.

While not strictly a Lean practice, Design-Build does allow for more collaboration for the two teams and lends itself to the possibility of implementing Lean methods. This makes it a great starting point for any team looking to dip their toes into Lean methodology.

Design-Build Contracts

Design-Build contracts are characterized by the construction and design team – along with any trades needed – working from the same contract which is co-signed by the owner. This contract forces the design and build teams to work together from the start of the project through to its completion.

Intro to Progressive Design-Build

Just because you’re working from a Design-Build contract structure rather than using Integrated Project Delivery doesn’t mean you can’t be Lean and implement Lean structures.

What is Progressive Design-Build?

In general, Design-Build is a more integrated form of project delivery than the typical Design-Bid-Build structure, making Design-Build a huge improvement for delivering value. However, by adhering to more Lean principles, Design-Build construction projects can deliver even more value.

What's The Goal?

The goal of Progressive Design-Build is to use Lean Construction principles while operating from a Design-Build contract.

Design-Build Projects

Check out this video from LCI member and host of The EBFC Postcast<, Felipe Engineer-Manriquez. Here he interviews Tania Gharechedaghy about her experience as the Owner’s Responsible-in-Charge Project Manager leading a $1B Design-Build Project.

Features of Progressive Design-Build

  • The owner and design-builder (the representative of the design & building teams, which is most often the design firm in a Design-Build contract) remain in constant contact throughout the process to ensure the project is delivered on budget and meets the owner’s expectations. This provides the owner with more control and oversight of the project than they’d normally have in a Design-Build project.
  • The design-builder is selected based on qualifications, not bid price, ensuring the highest possible value is delivered.
  • The project is completed in two separate and distinct phases, with the first phase covering pre-construction and the creation of designs, while the second phase covers the completion of the designs and construction of the project.

Phase 1

During this phase while using a Progressive Design-Build approach, the design-builder begins the process of designing the project, remaining in contact with the owner as budgetary needs change and ideas are exchanged.

Once the design has reached a satisfactory point that meets the owner’s expectations, a formal commercial project proposal can be written. This generally occurs when the design is at least halfway complete.

Phase 2

In some rare scenarios, the Phase 2 work can begin while Phase 1 work is already being completed – without a formal commercial contract yet completed – for the purpose of expedition.

During this phase, the design and build teams complete their work based on the terms of the commercial contract. Should talks stall out regarding an agreement on commercial terms, the owner has the option to move the project to another contract strategy.

Tips for Being Lean in Design-Build

Design-Build is a project delivery method that provides many more opportunities to be Lean than traditional Design-Bid-Build methods. Here are some other ways you can integrate Lean concepts into your Design-Build project.

  1. In the spirit of Conditions of Satisfaction, let the project’s objectives drive the process and ensure that every step in the process is working to achieve a goal or set of goals. The owner should set goals that are reasonable and attainable, with clear performance-based incentives that promote innovation.
  2. Owners are expected to develop realistic budgets for projects while communicating clearly about their budgetary restrictions.
  3. All contracted parties should work to identify project risks and agree to work collaboratively to ensure these risks are addressed in advance.
  4. All members of the team using Progressive Design-Build must be aligned that the level of success the project can achieve is dependent upon the parties’ willingness to collaborate and problem solve in constructive ways.

Lean Tools to Use in Design-Build

Many Lean tools support Design-Build projects (LCI partners with the DBIA on many Lean initiatives). Below are some, but not all, Lean tools and approaches that you can implement into your Design-Build projects.

Daily Huddles & Big Room

Daily Huddles are regularly-scheduled daily meetings between all relevant members of a project team in which the team discusses project updates and what needs to be accomplished before the next meeting. Big Room is another type of regular meeting between key stakeholders but the topics discussed are more big picture, looking at the project scope as a whole.

Last Planner System®

The Last Planner System can enhance process and flow in Design-Build construction projects by promoting productive conversations between team members on a regular basis so problems can be identified and solved before they disrupt the work being completed.

Target Value Delivery

Target Value Delivery is a project delivery method that aims to reduce waste by ensuring the needs of the project are consistently considered and satisfied throughout the process and by dividing the project into distinct phases to follow.

Gemba Walks

Gemba walks are useful for seeing how the processes are actually being completed on-site, allowing the design-builder to identify problems in the workflow. Through this process, the team can eliminate waste and increase the likelihood that the project is delivered on time.


5S is a mindset for organization on the job site. The goal of 5S is to ensure that equipment, information, and materials are provided to the proper people at the proper time, saving time for all members of the project team while also making the workplace safer.

Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream Mapping is a process of mapping out the workflow processes to determine what steps are adding value to the final product and which steps are wasteful and can be eliminated.

5 Why

5 Why is a method for root cause analysis that guides team members towards the cause of a problem occurring on-site so that the team can collectively devise an effective solution.

Learning Progressive Design-Build

Lean Construction Institute is committed to transforming the design and construction industry by providing educational resources, conducting surveys and research, and facilitating local and national Lean events. It is only through the power of the LCI Corporate Members that LCI is able to offer the supplementary resources below to help you better understand Progressive Design-Build.

Lean Assessments

How strong is your Lean knowledge? Take a Lean assessment to determine your current state so you have a baseline for improvement. Lean assessments are available for individuals, teams, and organizations alike. Whether you’re new to Lean or are an experienced Lean practitioner, Lean assessments are a great way to get started at LCI!



progressive design-build document cover
Progressive Design-Build Primer
From contracting and the procurement process to how owners should prepare, learn everything you need to know about the progressive design-build by downloading this resource. Our free resources are powered by LCI Corporate Members.
progressive design-build cross mapping document cover
Cross-mapping Design-Build Done Right™ and Lean Practices
This matrix lays out some of the relevant Lean Construction tools and techniques compared to major elements and steps in implementation as outlined in the DBIA publication Design-Build Done Right™.
progressive design build powerpoint cover image
Lean in Design-Build
Lean is increasingly used in Design-Build project delivery and naturally supports and builds upon the collaborative environment necessary for success with design-build and progressive design-build structures. Explore this free document to see how you can integrate Lean into your Design-Build project.
Target-Value Design
Target value design is a key component in the growing application of Progressive Design Build to enhance the value proposition for owners. Download this paper to find out why.
eLearning Courses
Effective Big Room
Gain a foundational understanding of the concept of a Big Room by learning the benefits, purpose, and implementation considerations. Understanding how to improve collaboration and drive transparency within your team. Identifying venue types, set up, and activities that work best for your projects. Learning how to effectively advance work and learning to support the success of future projects.
Learn more
Target Value Delivery
Gain an understanding of Target Value Delivery (TVD) by identifying the different phases and components that make up the delivery approach. Discover how the Lean components interact together to improve the process and outcome of the project.
Learn more
Introduction to the Last Planner System®
This course will allow you to gain in-depth insight to the practical application of the Last Planner® System (LPS) through multimedia, hands-on interactions, diagrams, worksheets, and more. The key achievable goal of this course is to learn how to engage at all five levels of LPS effectively on a day-to-day basis with a team implementing the system.
Learn more
LCI Publications
Transforming Design and Construction: A Framework for Change

William R. (Bill) Seed, Executive Editor

A diverse set of practitioners collaborated to create the Transforming Design and Construction: A Framework for Change book based on the transformative projects and experiences of their Lean practices. The papers, presented in short chapter format, are intended to encourage discussion, learning and experimentation individually or with a team.
Target Value Delivery: Practitioner Guidebook to Implementation

Executive Editors: Kristin Hill, Katherine Copeland and Christian Pikel

Target Value Delivery: Practitioner Guidebook to Implementation was collaboratively written by a team of more than 20 Target Value Delivery (TVD) practitioners to provide current state practical guidance to implementing TVD with a project team. Read LCI’s second book in the Transforming Design and Construction series to gain practical insight to current practices for implementing Target Value Delivery on any project.