Design Risks the Modern Contractor Should Watch Out For

Contractors take on more design responsibilities on projects using new delivery methods. But along with the new influence, comes new risks.

New project delivery methods are reshaping the role of the contractor. Throughout most of the 20th Century, design-bid-build was the standard way of running projects. This model relied on architects working with the owner under separate contract for the design phase. From there, the project was put out for bid to contractors to do the building.

So Many Roles

Today, more contractors find themselves as construction manager, assisting with design, or acting as partners with other participants. Generally called design-build delivery methods, these place design and construction services within one contract. Design-build use has risen rapidly over the past decade. In 2005 it accounted for 29% of the nonresidential construction market. More recently it is used on about 40% of the projects in nonresidential, according to a Chubb Construction report entitled, “New Business Models, Technology Raise Professional Liability Risks for Contractors.”


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