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Subcontract Bid Leveling

As the saying goes, “the devil is in the detail.” In this fast-paced bidding market where details are missing and assumptions rule, one would think more time would be spent levelling bids so proposal comparisons could be more accurately evaluated. That is not our experience.

I am not suggesting that bids are not vetted or compared by our GC’s, but that, essential portions of specifications are overlooked or avoided due to lack of knowledge or understanding which ultimately affect the price and comparisons between bidders.

For example, most hollow metal specifications are written around SDI (Steel Door Institute) performance standards and recommendations. To most General Contractors, the nomenclature might seem like some secret code but to hollow metal experts, it identifies the products that we are to use. Doors are classified by their usage starting at Level 1 and ending at Level 4. Level 4 consisting of doors used in high impact areas of the building like Back of House or Warehouse applications. The gauge of this door would be 14 gauge. Consequently, the door could be as much as $200.00 per door higher than a Level 2 door which is 18 gauge. Additionally, the model is also identified in specifications and there are two, Models 1 and 2 as shown below. Model 1 represents and “open” edge seam while Model 2 represents a ‘closed’ or non-visible seam on the edge of the door. Model 2 specified doors can add up to $75.00 per door depending on the method used to fill in the edge seam.



Very quickly and without speaking to core type, material type, top and bottom configurations, $275.00 could be added to the door cost. It is in this detail where the money lives and breathes and rarely discussed at a descoping table, seen in exhibits or bid leveling forms.

Details like this can be found not only in the hollow metal spec. section but in the wood doors and hardware as well. We do not expect our clients to have the knowledge that we do but we expect and hope to have more discussion so we might be able to bring these things to your attention before Mr. Low Bidder is awarded the project.

As I tell my estimating team, their first responsibility when completing a bid is to cover “our” cost, by reading the “black” in specifications and secondly covering the cost for our clients as well. We spend a lot of time making sure that we have covered what is specified first, before ever engaging in value engineering options.

In an effort to assist our clients, we have put together a bid leveling form or specification analysis that you can send to all bidders to assist you in determining whether your bidders are following the specifications. Do you have bidders that are value engineering the job first before the specs are reviewed? This form will help sort that out and we encourage you to start using it. Heck, we can even put your logo on the document for you! Download the form from our site today!

Additionally, if you would like our professional staff to set up a “Lunch and Learn,” we’d be happy to provide the sandwiches and our time to better educate you, our clients. Please shoot Chad Hall an email chall@rtwestern.com and he will set something up when you have the time.



Bid Leveling
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