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I am about to send a residential addition project out for bid and I am reviewing my standard bid request letter. I would like to update it. Is anyone willing to share a bid process, outline or format that you use that you find successful? My biggest concern if that I often get bids that are not "apples to apples" and it takes me a lot of time to compare them fairly and equally.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
SOLA-SOLE ARCHITECTS LLC
It's possible that you are going about this the wrong way. I have some suggestions:If you are attempting to collect true "apples-to-apples" comparison bids, then you would have to provide the bid format - not just a bid request letter. You would have to determine the categories and breakdowns, and ask them to be filled in, as a form. But, I don't know of any residential contractor who would agree to that.The bid information you receive from each contractor - even though you find that you can't cross-compare - carries plenty of information about the contractor. They way they format something, and the level of information they are willing to share tells a story about them. And, that's half the reason to get bids in the first place. You might consider that "apples-to-apples" comparisons are a goal too far, and not entirely important.When you say you're trying to compare the bids fairly and equally, you can only mean the relationship of price. And, in my experience, if price is the only consideration for a project, then the client can never be satisfied. There will always be some other builder who could give you a lower price. There will always be "two guys and a pickup truck". That is called a race to the bottom. Everyone loses - including you.
I think price should be the second-most important consideration. The most important should be the client's relationship with the contractor. When they are about to spend a large amount of money to have someone come into their home, tear it up, and put it back together again, they have to strongly consider the relationship with the person doing the work. There will be problems. There will be conflict. You can't risk a client's home - and your reputation - based on the low bid. Your first consideration should be for a contractor with a long history of successful projects, and happy former clients. This is someone with a vested interest in customer service and completion.Finally, when you talk about comparing bids, it sounds like you're working with a completed/finalized set of construction documents. I suggest that you consider a process whereby you can obtain budget/ballpark pricing from contractors, after the schematic stage. The worst time to find out pricing is when the drawings are already completed. In my experience, there are always revisions when clients get their pricing. If this happens after the drawings are completed, you will have to charge for revising. And, the client will wonder why you didn't know the pricing would be so high - as if somehow it's your fault.I wish you the best of success with your projects.
That is the most comprehensive and best advice that I have heard in a long, long time.
Lewis Faulkner, AIA