Traditional Project Delivery With a Design Build Component

By Jeff Clarkson, Vak Pak, Inc. / jclarkson@vakpak.com

As a swimming pool contractor, providing a commercial bid package takes a large amount of time to prepare and can certainly leave you with a feeling that you have wasted your time.  This frequently happens when providing a bid to a general contractor who may or may not have the job. 

This scenario typically falls into what I call the traditional bid process; where a project is publicized requesting bids.  The intent is to obtain comparative bids also referred to as an “apples-to-apples” bid package.  However, that assumes that everyone adheres to the specifications.  With our current supply chain issues and DOE changes in pump efficiency, it is becoming unrealistic to provide a proposal without providing variations to the specifications.  In addition, there are certain items that may be a recommendation and not a requirement to upgrade the specifications, such as providing schedule 80 versus schedule 40 plumbing.  

How do you handle these conditions and should you vary from the specifications to deliver a bid that provides what will actually be offered?  In other words; is it acceptable to treat some of the components as if they were a design-build?  It is my opinion that this would provide a bid package that’s realistic, in addition to providing some benefits to the bidder as well as the client.  In lieu of just providing a number, this approach increases your opportunity to engage the client, which provides an opening to learn more about the client and the project itself.  The approach is to engage the client with valid reasons to ask questions and make an informed decision as to bid the project or not.  

Treating the bid process with the design-build mentality will take time upfront.  However, this may save you much more time than preparing a bid with the only spotlight being a number.  Much can be learned and gained with asking the right questions.  For example, when will your scope of the work (contract) start?  What’s your time frame in completing the contract?   After all, the goal of bidding a job should not just be to get the job and worry about everything else later.  Engaging the client and gathering information on expectations builds credibility and trust that can make the difference of a successful project.    

To learn more, Jeff Clarkson is teaching a CE course on August 18 at the FSPA T.E.C. Center. Visit www.FSPATECCEnter.com and find it on the calendar for more details.