RSArchitects News

Project Delivery Methods Infographic.

Design-Build, Design-Bid-Build, and CM-R...what's the difference?


January 3, 2019


When it comes time to expand your business into a space that is all your own, you’re bound to encounter unfamiliar terms. You know you need someone to design the space and someone to build the space, but now you--the project owner--must choose a method of delivery for these two services.

If you aren’t familiar with the delivery methods available, we’re here to help! The three most common methods are Design-Build, Design-Bid-Build, and Construction Manager at-Risk (CM-R for short). Keep reading for an overview of each method:


Design-Build is a relatively new delivery method, but has really taken off in the industry. With this method, the project owner only has to hire one company. This allows the project owner to get the design and build done under a single contract, with a stream-lined channel of communication.

Typically the primary contract is held between the owner and general contractor, who then is responsible for the design and build. The contractor will hold separate contracts with the design team and subcontractors, and will manage the project.

During a Design-Build, construction and design take place simultaneously. This means the design and construction overlap throughout the process. Once the general footprint of the building is designed, construction gets underway. The design for the building continues to develop, with each phase of construction right on the heels of the design.

Design-Bid-Build has been considered the traditional method of delivery, and is still a very popular choice. The first step in Design-Bid-Build is for the owner to contract with an architect. The architect works with the owner to realize the design, and produce complete design and construction documents.

The next step is the solicitation of bids from contractors. This can be done as either an open bid or by invitation only. Contractors use the construction documents to determine the building costs for the project, and offer a fixed fee to do the work.

Often, but not always, the project owner will select the low bidder. Sometimes, the architect is asked to assist in the selection of a contractor. The project owner then enters into a contract with the selected contractor and construction begins.

Now the project owner has a contract with both the architect and the contractor, however, the architect typically remains the main point of contact. The architect acts as an advocate on behalf of the project owner, working with the contractor to ensure the integrity of the design is upheld in the construction.

Construction Manager at Risk (CM-R) is a delivery method that combines parts of the Design-Build and Design-Bid-Build methods, with some of its own uniqueness. Similar to Design-Bid-Build, the project owner first selects and contracts with an architect. Together, they begin the design process.

Early in the design process, the project owner also contracts with a construction manager who is brought on board as an integral part of the design team. The construction manager (CM) provides a host of services during the design phase, which include assisting with value engineering, material comparisons, cost estimating, reviewing the design for constructability, and scheduling.

Similar to Design-Build, once the CM is brought on board there can be some overlap of design and construction taking place. This overlap usually includes only early steps of construction, such as excavation and site development, but nevertheless it accelerates the overall timeline compared to the traditional Design-Bid-Build.

When the design phase is nearing completion, the CM presents the project owner with a GMP, which stands for Guaranteed Maximum Price, and the CM must deliver the completed project for no more than that price. This is what puts the “at-Risk” into the CM-R title.

The CM is taking a risk by guaranteeing a set amount, because unforeseen circumstances could increase the project cost. In that case, the construction manager must absorb the loss.

Once the project is in the construction phase, the construction manager may perform work on the project, or rely solely on subcontractors, and is ultimately responsible for the completion of the build.

Choosing the best delivery method is a matter of deciding what is right for your specific project, and what is most important to you. Completing the project in a short timeline will mean one method, while ensuring an award-winning design will mean another.

RSArchitects has experience in all three of these delivery methods and we’d be happy to help you choose what is best for you and your project. If you’d like more information, email us at rsa@rsarchitects-sd.com, call us at 605.336.6891, or visit our office at 2307 West 57th Street in Sioux Falls, and we’ll help you get your project started!


Champagne Toast to 2018.

Here's to 2018


December 27, 2018


As the holidays wind down, we realize the New Year is just around the corner, and we begin to reflect on the year that will soon be in the past.

2018 was a year of unprecedented growth in Sioux Falls, and we are proud to continue being a part of that great growth. This year, some of our clients moved into brand new offices, including Hegg Realtors, Jans Corporation, Keller Williams Realty, and Total Card, Inc. We truly enjoyed working with these companies to create work spaces that allow them to continue reaching new heights in their industries.


Despite the competition from online shops, local retail is still booming. Trav’s Outfitter opened a new expansive store earlier this year in Watertown. Harrisburg now has an ACE Hardware, a convenience welcomed by local residents. In Sioux Falls, Autoland moved into their new, larger, and more visible location, situated just off of I-29. And a few businesses also received face-lifts this year, including Stone’s Truck Stop in Watertown, Coffee Cup in Vermillion, and Graham Volvo, and Gilrich Mall I in Sioux Falls.

Hospitality is also alive and kicking. Two RSA-designed restaurants opened this year in Pierre: Tokyo and The Fieldhouse. Tokyo brings Japanese cuisine to the capital, while The Fieldhouse provides residents with a brand new sports bar. In Sioux Falls, we are working on two buildings that will each have a Taco John’s restaurant, with additional retail space to lease – one building is currently under construction with the other to follow soon. Similarly, we are working on two Holiday Inn Express hotels in Oregon – one in construction and one soon to be.

In the public sector, this year we’ve worked with several cities, including Watertown, Parkston, and Madison. Parkston will open their new Emergency Facility in January, while the projects in Watertown and Madison are still in the design phase. We also worked with the State of South Dakota to create an addition to the Selby DOT Truck Maintenance Shop, as well as completed a reroof on a section of the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts on the USD campus. And we’re currently contracting with the Sioux Falls School District for a remodel project that will be completed during the summer of 2019.

As for international news, we were happy to provide Daniel Maduk a design for a new home in Pajut, South Sudan. We met Daniel through our good friend, Moses, who has worked tirelessly to improve conditions in his home village of Pajut. This was the fourth design RSA has done for a building in Pajut, the three previous ones were a school, a medical clinic, and a women’s center.

In addition to her work with South Sudan, Myrna Stanley continues giving of her time for the Northern Plains Indian Art Market, and once again this year, RSA was proud to help with the layout for the annual event held at the Ramkota Exhibit Hall.

In the office, we celebrated Keith Neuharth’s 20 year anniversary with RSA! We also welcomed Shanee Mikkelson into her full time Interior Designer role. And we helped Micki (DeCurtins) Noyes celebrate her marriage to Jason Noyes.

It’s been a great year at RSArchitects, and we owe that to our great clients. We thank you sincerely for giving us the opportunity to serve you! Cheers to 2018!