New Research Shows Design-Build is Changing the Way America Builds

Project Complexity, Delivery, Scheduling and the Need to Innovate Drive Design-Build Usage Despite Market Challenges

Researchers at FMI first looked at design-build utilization in 2018 and confirmed what many in the industry knew first-hand: design-build wasn’t an “alternative delivery process” anymore. The company’s new market analysis forecasting 2021-2025 shows that is especially true: Design-build growth will continue, despite unprecedented COVID-19 challenges.

Lisa Washington, CAE, Executive Director/CEO of the Design-Build Institute of America said, “This latest research confirms that as growing numbers of teams use design-build in all sectors, regions and project sizes, their successes are driving growth and innovation. Design-build is changing the way America builds. More than ever, as our nation considers the passage of historic infrastructure investment, it’s clear design-build will play a significant role in delivering the nation’s most time and cost-efficient projects to our communities. Just when we need it most.”

The data on the design-build industry’s growth is impressive. Design-build has seen increased usage in all sectors and regions of the United States, and the industry has also witnessed extraordinary project outcomes and innovation across all sectors. The FMI Design-Build Market research provides detailed geographic and sector data, including market analysis and projections. The full 57-page report is available online here, and highlights include:

  • Overall, design-build is anticipated to account for as much as 47% of construction spending in the assessed segments (nonresidential, highway/street, transportation and water/wastewater) by 2025.
  • While national construction put in place spending for 2020 and 2021 saw a decline, design-build construction spending for these COVID years saw slight upticks of 1.3% in 2020 and an estimated .5% increase in 2021. It’s projected that design-build will also outperform national growth rates by 1.6% over the 2021-2025 window delivering $1.7 trillion in construction in the assessed segments during the same time frame.
  • Design-build spending in Highway/Street, Education and Manufacturing represents the greatest percentage of design-build construction spending by segment over the 2021-2025 period.
  • The West South Central (8.8%), South Atlantic (8.6%) and Middle Atlantic (8.2%) census divisions are anticipated to yield the highest annual growth rates.
  • Design-build spending is anticipated to grow 34% overall, with the water/wastewater sector showing the highest annual growth (11.1%).

Design-build Earns Highest Satisfaction Rankings and More…

  • Experience with design-build was rated highest across all project delivery methods, with 77% reporting very good and excellent experiences.
  • The ability to fast track, innovate and increase project collaboration/communication were identified as top benefits of design-build.
  • More than 60% of Owners employ an Owner Advisor across each project phase.
  • Respondents say design-build encourages greater Minority/Women/Disadvantaged Business Enterprise(MWDBE) participation.
  • Interest in Progressive Design-Build (PDB) is growing, with the Pacific region (40%) showing the highest percentage of PDB procurements.

The results of this study were developed through a combination of DBIA (Design-Build Institute of America) provided contacts and FMI internal contacts. In total, 46 interviews were conducted, and 279 survey responses were collected.


FMI is industry-specialized and relationship-driven with a proven long-term commitment to creating exceptional outcomes for our clients. Founded in 1953, FMI provides up-to-date industry data, forecasts and unique insights, and FMI training programs provide industry-specific professional development from the field up through the C-suite. The company has offices in Raleigh (HQ), Denver, Tampa, and Houston.

Editor's Note:

Over two-thirds (70%) of projects by count are estimated to be under $100 million according to this report. That means for designers and architects, it’s not always about the high-profile projects. When we covered Specialized Birmingham Trucking Company Expands Warehouse and Logistics Division to accommodate Growing Demand for Warehouse Storage and Staging Services, we noted that there were over 1,800 projects going on in the warehouse category in the planning stage alone, with 979 owners. Amazon work represents only 2% of that total volume of new warehouses. There are MANY under $100M projects going on, and it’s up to us to find them and get that work. KB-Resource is doing its best to help. For example, if you would like a confidential report on warehouses, contact the [email protected]. Or, if you are interested in any other market sector, contact the Editor. Our job is to help you get business! Let’s have a conversation.

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