WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new AEC industry poll by the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) offers a glimpse into the continually shifting challenges the COVID-19 pandemic poses for our industry. The May poll follows up a similar survey taken early in the pandemic. While a lot has changed in that time there is one constant. Uncertainty still reigns.


What’s Changed
More projects have been postponed or canceled, more positive cases of COVID-19 on teams have led to more deaths and remote work has gone from a unique experiment to what many say could be a “new normal.” A growing number of firms (34%) report working on new projects related to pandemic mitigation, emergency services and capacity building. From creating alternate care facilities in hotels, convention centers and dorms to building new capacity in existing hospitals America’s, design-build teams have delivered expedited emergency facilities in states nationwide. In the transportation and education sectors, several existing projects have been expedited as less traffic and no students on campus have provided the opportunity for more work.


Looking Ahead
Respondents in this DBIA poll predict projects could become more expensive with the implementation of new safety protocols, commodity cost hikes and other economic factors in the COVID-19 work environment. They also anticipate longer delivery times as social distancing policies impact scheduling and the use of creative strategies are needed to manage project crews on site. At the same time, owners’ capital is limited and public agencies in states and localities, especially, will face tightening budgets.

Some comments included:

  • “We are going to see budget issues because we, as a DOT, are funded by the gas tax; sales are down, prices are down.”
  • “Although we’re incurring higher costs on our projects, we have not yet begun to bid projects at higher pricing levels, but this is possible in the future.”
  • “I think budgets will have to increase for additional safety measures, as well as increased schedule durations; work/trades will have to be scheduled differently than in the past and it will most likely take longer to build our projects.”

But with these challenges also come opportunities. And, according to many polled, design-build is poised to (once-again) spur the recovery by delivering innovative projects quickly while maximizing limited budgets.

  • “Infrastructure, which is a major contributor to the construction industry, will now be at the forefront of the economic recovery and stimulus for post COVID-19 and beyond (next 5 to 10 years). Outlook is promising.”
  • “Design-Build will be a big part of a federal stimulus package to get projects on the street faster.”
  • “I see more design-build deliveries coming, especially for some of the larger transportation projects, to optimize the fiscal budgets.”
  • “Design-Build will continue to grow.”


Now What?
DBIA is committed to helping the industry prepare for the future and has a number of resources available to the AEC industry navigating the COVID-19 response and recovery.

Revamped Design-Build Curriculum & Certification Schedule: The remainder of DBIA’s 2020 education courses, certification workshops and custom training will be virtual to allow maximum flexibility, safety and convenience for design-builders.

Design-Build Contracts + Free Resources: DBIA contract documents are designed and vetted by industry leaders who know what you need to get your project started. In fact, did you know, DBIA’s force majeure clause specifically references pandemics?