6 Ways to Meet General Contractor Expectations on Your Next Bid

Contributed by Donald Bartholomew, LEED AP 
Chief Estimator at North Georgia Estimating Services & STACK Software Expert

There are many aspects of a subcontractor bid proposal, that are incredibly important to general contractors. Of course, price is ultimately what they want, but it’s not the only thing in a construction project bid that stands out. Be sure to include these easyto-overlook elements to ensure your proposal isn’t lost in the crowd and to give yourself the best opportunity to win the work. 

Be Crystal Clear.

Making sure the project information in your proposal is clear should be priority #1. Provide a precise description of the project by name and location and be sure to include the general scope of work. This basic information is commonly provided by the general contractor to the subcontractor with the invitation to bid [ITB]. Consider who you want to see your bid and be sure to include a line to address that (Attn: Bid Contact).  More often than not, there will be a specific pre-construction manager receiving proposals for specific divisions or scopes of work. If you don’t know who that manager is by name it may be a good idea to call and inquire. 

Detail Your Scope.

The person reviewing your bid should quickly know the scope of work you will be providing. List each division for which you are providing a quote (Concrete, Masonry, Stucco etc) and take the time to provide a detailed scope of work description for eachThen answer these critical questions. Are you providing a turn-key quote, meaning everything to complete the scope of work, including material, labor, equipment etc.? Or, are you providing labor only or material only?  

Price Your Quote.

This is not as simple as it sounds. Your overall price only gives the general contractor the minimum amount of information needed to accurately compile a comprehensive bid to the owner. Once you list all scopes of work you will be performing, you should also list pricing for each scope. General contractors are going to be more interested in quotes that include this level of detail as they usually are required to submit their bid to the owner broken down by division. This also increases your company’s chance of winning the work. Even if you’re priced too high in one area, your other scopes of work may be competitive. Also, if the invitation to bid lists any alternates, be sure to list pricing for each requested alternate. Even if the alternate won’t impact your company’s scope of work, you should acknowledge each one and price it at $0.00. This lets the general contractor know that you reviewed the build documents thoroughly. 

Communicate Added Value.

Remember, you are competing to win with many other qualified contractors. Don’t be afraid to do a little value engineering, or in other words, call attention to any additional value you can add to your quote. For example, there are often instances where alternative materials and/or processes could provide cost savings for the general contractor without sacrificing build quality. Be sure to provide information and pricing and be specific about the material or process changes that would help the general contractor to reduce cost while providing a high-quality build to their client. This is a great way to make your project bid stand out above your competition. 

Acknowledge the Build Documents.

This is more important than you might think, so make sure to acknowledge the build documents. List the project drawings with the release dates and the name of the architect / engineer of record. Also, list all specifications. Even though not all of the specifications will pertain to your company’s scope (s) of work, there is information provided in specific sections that do impact your company. 

Specify Clarifications & Exclusions.

Finally, provide a list of clarifications and exclusions as they pertain to your quote. This is where you make mention of things such as time sensitive pricing, bonding information, etc. With material prices climbing nearly every quarter, it’s always beneficial to have it noted in your quotation. Depending on your scope of work, you may wish to exclude certain costs such as utilities, refuse containers or prep work performed by others.  

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