design construct

Design and Construct

As an experienced and most often as a client side pharmaceutical consultant, I’m often asked if a Design and Construct D&C method is the best out of the following 3 project delivery methods,

  1. Engineering, Procurement, Construction (EPC) / Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management (EPCM),
  2. Design and Construct (D&C), or lastly
  3. Project and Construction Management (PCM).

The answer is, well it depends. In this 3 series of blogs, I will expand on the different contract types, list pro and cons and highlight some specific considerations for more complex projects such as medical device, pharmaceutical or veterinary facilities and then let you decide.

Design and Construction (D&C)

Arguably the most common method for low risk, repetitive projects, where most importantly the contracting party has a high level of confidence that the can deliver the project, on time and within budget. While there are a number of benefits selecting a Design and Construct, D&C contract, there are some important drawbacks, typically in Australia, I have only used them or been engaged in the contract method for Warehouses or Distribution Centers and never for a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant.


The principal engages:

  • Design Consultancy – a knowledgeable, trusted design consultancy to prepare a preliminary design specification; and secondly,
  • Contractor – a trusted contractor to complete the design and to construct the project.

As this delivery method generally reduces the principal’s risk and increases the contractor’s risk, the model is most often used for domestic buildings, commercial buildings and infrastructure projects.

Contractual relationships

Phase 1 – The design consultancy is engaged by the principal who typically carries out the design to completion of the preliminary design stage and help to prepare the principal’s user requirements specification which is the functional brief of the project.

Phase 2 – A design and construction contractor is engaged by the principle, who undertakes to meet the principal’s project requirements specifications within a fixed budget and timeline, the contractor performs this  by:

  • completing the design (and they often take over consultants used by the principal); and
  • constructing the manufacturing facility.

The advantage of the method is it creates a single point of accountability for design and construction for the design, timeline and cost, most often the principal engages a superintendent to administer the contract.

The design and construct method can be varied such that the contractor also takes on responsibility for maintenance of the asset once constructed: this is called a design, construct and maintain (DCM) delivery method. The DCM method places additional responsibilities on the contractor during the design and construction phases, because the contractor will be more mindful when considering the operability and maintenance of the asset post-construction. This method is not practical for Pharmaceutical facilities and not discussed further. 


  • Proven – There are well established Australian standard form contracts available or your legal adviser should easily be able to provide one,
  • Innovate – the designer and contractor can leverage off their full expertise, and deliver significant design / construction efficiencies,
  • Reduce variations – if diligently scoped at preliminary design stage, there is usually less risk of variations relating to design,
  • Collaborate – collaboration during the design and construction phases are enhanced,
  • Speed – often the construction phase is fast-tracked (sign-off on the ‘design and construct’ is earlier than on ‘construct only’),
  • De-risk – most importantly the principal reduces its risk because the contractor is a single point of responsibility for design and construction.



  • Loss of control – The principal has less control over the final design,
  • More expensive – the contract sum may be higher to reflect increased contractor risks
  • Complexity constraints – Cannot accommodate the complexity of a modern manufacturing facility.


How PharmOut can help your next Design and Construct, D&C project?

We are experts at defining the user and functional requirements.

In traditional contracts, the detailed design is fully developed prior to construction, however under a Design and Construct model, the project brief needs to be defined much earlier and often with less certainty.

For the more complex and unique construction projects typically needed for manufacturing plants, the more prescriptive the brief should be. Selecting a proven and experienced design partner, such as PharmOut who are experienced in designing, engineering and specifying or documenting pharmaceutical specifications that are critical factors in ensuring success using D&C delivery.

More information on the other project management blogs  –

Engineering Procurement Construction and Management (EPCM)

Design and Construction (D&C) (this blog)

Project and Construction Management (PCM)