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This approach has become more common in recent years, and also involves the client contracting a single entity that both provides a design and builds it. In some cases, the design-build package can also include finding the site, arranging funding and applying for all necessary statutory consents. The owner produces a list of requirements for a project, giving an overall view of the project's goals. Several D&B contractors present different ideas about how to accomplish these goals. The owner selects the ideas they like best and hires the appropriate contractor. Often, it is not just one contractor, but a consortium of several contractors working together.

Once these have been hired, they begin building the first phase of the project. As they build phase 1, they design phase 2. This is in contrast to a design-bid-build contract, where the project is completely designed by the owner, then bid on, then completed. Kent Hansen pointed out that state departments of transportation usually use design build contracts as a way of progressing projects when states lack the skills-resources. In such departments, design build contracts are usually employed for very large projects.