What's the Big Deal with the Bid Phase?

What's the Big Deal with the Bid Phase?

Surprises are fun, unless you're building something.  Let's imagine you have a building project and are scrambling to pull together pricing to get financing - you have just time enough for a quick napkin plan and a walkthrough to describe your vision to several contractors, they follow up with a few bids, and you pick the lowest one (naturally!) and, BAM, you have an agreement.

Flash-forward three months later when you've picked a bathroom fixture package you love, and your contractor says that your selections exceed the contract price - that'll be a change order!

"OMG what have you done to my bathroom?" Don't be like this woman on the BBC's show "Your Home in their Hands".

"OMG what have you done to my bathroom?" Don't be like this woman on the BBC's show "Your Home in their Hands".

When you're not crystal clear in the bid process about what you're buying, people make assumptions, and we all know the saying about people that ASS-U-ME.  In a perfect world, your vision of the future is transferred to your contractor's brain telepathically - and we're not there yet.  Until then, there is the Documentation Phase of architectural services.

The documentation phase (or construction drawings phase) illustrates the scope of work that will be the basis of a contractor's bid.  Documentation is a critical phase that establishes the responsibilities of the contractor, architect and owner for the benefit of the future bidding and construction phases. Drawings and illustrations are part of it, but equally important are terms and conditions of the project, addressing anything that can be a point of contention in the construction phase by establishing guidelines.

Full construction documents will be made up not just by the architect's drawings but a Project Manual.  Project Manuals include instructions and guidelines and processes that should be considered prior to establishing a price.  A misconception is that they are only needed for large or complex projects, or custom homes; in truth, projects with modest budgets can benefit as much or more from full construction documents! 

A project manual is often the victim of architectural fee reduction requested of smaller jobs, as their creation does take professional care and time, thus they cost a bit more.  However, I don't like to see any project go without addressing some basic decisions set forth in a good project manual.  So, I created a Project Manual Template that I give to my clients to assist in creating a basic rules book clarifying scope and protocol for small residential projects. 

The key sections of a Project Manual are:

Part 1:

Instruction to bidders: 

  • bid due date
  • site access and scheduling site visits with owner and architect
  • statement describing owner's right to select bid most advantageous to their interest without reason.
  • how the contractors can get a set a plans and who will be purchasing the plans.
  • addenda, information supplied to all the contractors arising from site visits, and how the addenda will be distributed

Bid Forms and Alternates

  • bid form stating the base sum of money for work
  • alternates to base scope of work that may affect sum

Bid Breakdown Template

  • worksheet breaking down the trade costs so that you can level bid against other bids

General Conditions

  • definitions of construction schedule and who determines substantial completion
  • how deliveries will be handled and where the storage of materials will be placed
  • procedures for handling submittals and substitutions
  • warranty of work
  • insurance and performance bond requirements
  • procedure for correction in work 

General Requirements

  • Scope of work description
  • Allowances

Quality Control Specifications (to be written by architect)

Part 2:

Owner's Selections

  • In this section, you will compile cut sheets/ product information for the following items: appliances, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, countertops, tile and wood finishes, and decorative lighting.

For link to download the template, send an email to kim@studioBKA.com and best of luck on your next project! 

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