Only five states do not have laws giving specific authority to public works projects in using design-build.

“That doesn't mean there are no design-build projects going on in those states,” says Cara Welch, general counsel for the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), “just no specific legislation.” (The five states are Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.)

Since DBIA began tracking state design-build legislation, the number of bills introduced each year and the number passed have usually increased.

The authority granted varies by state. A bill may give authority for design-build for a specific transit project, while other bills may grant authority to all transportation projects or to all public vertical buildings in that state.

Some states, like Virginia, have widespread authority. In other states, such as California, the authority may be piecemeal or on a county-by-county basis. In the past year, design-build legislation in the Gulf Coast spiked as cities sought ways to speed up rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

“In any state that has a strong home rule charter, such as Illinois or Pennsylvania, the counties or local government can decide to use design-build without the state's statuary authority,” Welch says.

The design-build method has grown rapidly for non-residential design and construction.

In 1985, design-build accounted for 5% of the non-residential construction market; traditional design-bid-build, 82%; and construction management at-risk, 12%. By 2005, its use had grown by 40%, with traditional design-bid-build at 50% and construction management at 10%.

From current trends and surveys, DBIA predicts design-build will constitute 45% of the market; traditional, 45%; and construction management, 10% in 2010. By 2015 the organization forecasts design-build will surpass design-bid-build as the preferred method and capture 50% of the market. Traditional design-bid-build will be 40%; and construction management, 10%.

Theorizing on why more owners are choosing design-build, Welch says, “Studies have shown that, for many projects, design-build delivery provides an opportunity to finish projects faster, on or below budget, and with less litigation.”

For more information about DBIA and current and pending design-build legislation, visit or call 202-682-0110.