How to Build a Better Bid
April 1, 2023
In this article, we hope to provide you with useful information to help you bring your construction project in on time and on budget.
We know that you have a lot on your plate and the last thing you want is a messy bid process full of change orders and variables that are hard to control. With all the moving parts that are sure to come with your project, one thing can be guaranteed, a flawed bid process will show up in the work to be done.
You put a lot of time and energy into getting your project off on the right foot. It is a huge responsibility and the work you do in preparation goes a long way in determining the eventual outcome. From the initial bid review to the final walk through, you will measure each step-in relation to how well the bid-winner is meeting your goals and expectations. When the final punch list is complete and you review the project as a whole, you want to be sure that your project has met at least three key performance indicators. Time, cost, and quality.
Construction companies deal with an endless stream of bid requests every day. Like you, construction service providers do their best to set each project up to succeed. The better they understand your project and the parameters that define success, the better the result is for everyone. With this in mind, below is the construction service provider’s advice on best practices for setting up your bid request.
Best Practices for Acquiring Quality Bids
Design is critical.
This step of the process comes well before the bid for construction, but rushed or poorly drawn plan sets inevitably contribute to headaches for everyone in each successive phase of the project. Investing more time and resources in this critical stage will pay off in the end. Hire a competent engineer and build in the time they need to create a quality set of plans that can be executed by those doing the physical construction.
Organization is king.
Equip your Notice to Bidders or Request for Proposal (RFP) with all the information that a bidder needs to be as accurate as possible. Include a full set of documents. Specifications, soil reports, drawings, CAD (Computer-Aided Design) files, etc. A bid is only as good as its inputs and incomplete data forces bidders to make assumptions. This will likely result in apples-to-oranges comparisons at bid review time and cascades into further trouble down the line.
Timing is everything.
Believe it or not, the timeframe and schedule for a project is often omitted from the information provided to bidders. This has a detrimental effect on building quality bids as construction service providers must factor timing into materials cost estimates, workforce decisions, and availability. For instance, if your project completion target is two years out, bidders will need to factor in material cost escalators. If the timing requires a rush, bidders need to be aware so they can factor in their own schedules and take an honest look at their ability to submit for consideration or even complete the job on time.
As simple as it sounds, clear and upfront communication of your timeframe saves you from having to make unforeseen schedule adjustments later which are costly and have the potential to put a project behind from the very beginning.
There is more to the bottom line.
It is tempting to jump straight to cost when reviewing bids. Even in a “low-bid wins” scenario, all bids are not created equal. Be sure to read the scope of work and exclusions to make sure you know that you are getting true apples-to-apples comparisons. Making sure you understand the bid and that it meets all the requirements for a successful conclusion is a crucial last step before work begins. You don’t want to find out mid-project that your bid-winner failed to account for all factors and is now holding your project hostage while waiting for avoidable change-orders to be completed.
Build a Better Bid
Each project is unique. This uniqueness creates variability and thus, there is not one perfect way to ask for bids. Often, collaboration is a great way to build in guiderails to success. Where possible, talk to people with expertise in construction before/while preparing your materials. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you trust to come out and measure a project or look at an initial scope of work. This can be a great way to gain a different perspective and understand how to set your entire project up for optimal results.
Whether you are public or private, new to the bid process or a veteran with the scars to prove it, many of the ideas shared in this article can be applied to assist you with successful and predictable outcomes. With more than 20 years in the industry, we have experienced a wide range of project approaches. In our line of work, attention to detail and communication are two key factors that must be done well to deliver projects on time and on budget. These two disciplines, when present in bid preparation, help us to meet our mutual goals. When this partnership happens, it results in outcomes that serve everyone well and stacks the odds in favor of success.
About Absolute Group
Absolute Group is nearly 400 team members strong and growing. We provide a broad range of municipal, commercial, and residential construction solutions. From underground infrastructure to site restoration and everything in between, including full-site development, trucking, footings and poured foundation walls, concrete pumping, concrete flatwork and paving at any scale, stormwater pollution prevention, erosion control/sediment control, site management, and construction management. You can trust Absolute Group to efficiently streamline and complete your specialized construction needs.