Design-Build Program

About design-build | ​Information for industry​

WisDOT's Design-Build Program is a collaborative contracting process that brings the engineering and construction industries together at the outset of a highway improvement project. Traditionally in Wisconsin, these processes have always been separated, where a designer plans the project and a construction company will then execute on those plans.

Starting in 2019, the State of Wisconsin allowed WisDOT to structure a design-build option into the highway construction programs. The Design-Build Program ​is managed under the department’s Alternative Contracting Section. It is expected to be operational in 2021.

​While not a solution for every scenario, design-build is able to create efficiency by eliminating administrative burden and enhancing the synergy, creativity and communication that ultimately brings a project into reality.​​

Ab​​​o​​​u​​​t de​​sign-build​​

What is design-build?

  • Contractors will work with WisDOT to provide design and construction services, creating a streamlined process that enhances communication, planning and execution.
  • Design-build differs from WisDOT’s traditional design-bid-build procurement, which divides projects into design and construction phases that are managed separately.
  • Design-build is used successfully in many states to deliver transportation projects.​

H​​​​o​w​​ does design-build work?​​

  • Designers and builders come together early in the project, teaming up to create a proposal for the work.
  • Like with any other WisDOT project, the department will continue to define terms and conditions as well as the goals, requirements and standards.
  • In a design-build project, the design and construction staffs will begin working together in the beginning instead of consecutively. Both disciplines bring skillsets and knowledge that help shape the overall approach with goals of:​
    • Accelerating delivery
    • Decreasing administrative burden
    • Creating synergy, efficiency, and innovation​

Where does design-build work best?​

  • ​Design-build is generally used for projects that are complex, involve multiple construction trades, or have a tight construction schedule.
  • Any project could be considered for design-build if it provides enough opportunity for innovation.
  • It’s important to note that, like all engineering and planning solutions, design-build is not one-size-fits-all.
  • WisDOT staff will continue to evaluate future program needs to maximize this opportunity.
  • Unlike with the design-bid-build system, a design-build project requires all funding to be encumbered in advance, while the nature of design-bid-build can spread those resource needs over a longer time span while juggling other projects.

​Information for industry

Selecting a design-build team​

  • ​The department’s overall procedure will include a two phase process to select design-build teams.
  • An initial notification of the project will be sent to the construction and engineering community prior to release of the RFQ.
    • The department also may choose to issue a letter of interest  (for larger projects) to the engineering and construction communities. Smaller projects may bypass this step.
    • ​If a letter of interest is issued, teams that respond to the letter of interest will receive a request for qualifications (RFQ).
    • The RFQ will include the goals for the project and require the interested teams to display their abilities in predetermined categories.
  • The responsive teams will be evaluated by a selection panel. A shortlist of the top teams will be released and those teams will be eligible to receive the request for proposals (RFP).

Procurement schedules​​

Procurement schedules can vary for each project depending on size and complexity. A typical procurement for a low-bid design-build project may last six months. This would include a six-week RFQ notice and 14-week proposal preparation period after the release of the RFP. Projects using a best value selection method will require a longer procurement schedule so teams can prepare their responses to the RFP and allow for the RFP scoring process to be completed.

Joint ventures

Joint ventures will be considered similar to the design-bid-build process.

Public involvement​​​

Public involvement will begin during preliminary design.

  • The design-build team may be required to hold additional public meetings during final design (especially if the design differs from the preliminary concept).
  • The design-build team will also be required to hold a public meeting prior to commencing construction​.

​Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) involvement​

Design-build projects are likely to include inclusion requirements for DBEs, as do many WisDOT projects​. Any DBE needs will be clearly communicated in the project documentation.

Design-build project timeline

The first design-build projects ​are expected to be solicited in 2021.​

For m​​​​​ore information

WisDOT’s Alternative Contracting Section in the Bureau of Project Development is responsible for overseeing the procurement process and will manage any problems that arise during the implementation phase. The projects will be managed by the region offices​.

Workshops for contractors and consultants wanting to learn more about design-build contracting and how the program is likely to be implemented in Wisconsin are encouraged to visit this page often for updates. Free virtual workshops for contractors and consultants are scheduled for late 2020.

Join the design-build email distribution list to stay informed of when this website is updated and workshops are scheduled.​