Ask the Contractor: What Are the Pros and Cons of Multiple Bids?

We all know the saying “time is money” and whether that means for the client or contractor, it is always something to keep in mind. The time a contractor is investing up front the more difficult it can be, especially in the busy season. A contractors busy season generally start in spring and runs through summer. At Northfield Construction Company we encourage people to get in early if you want the most competitive numbers, that means seek out your bid during the winter and to get on the schedule early, especially for summer projects.

What does this mean for you as a client?

Many contractors don’t put the time in or don’t have the time to put in for multiple bids because their calendar won’t allow it. Certainly the upside for the client is getting multiple pricing sometimes can be in your favor on getting lower bids and lower numbers. But the downsize is, you also get people who will play a game. So unless you have a really defined project with an architectural plan and a full scope with it and a complete list of work you are doing – to compare apples to apples you will never get the same comparison.

Do people generally come with fully designed project or do they expect that to be part of the process?

Both. If someone comes to Northfield Construction Company with that not prepared and we are really going to be the ones working with them and investing our time to help write specs of a new home and working with a draftsman, or on a remodel drawing it up ourselves and putting together a budget, we have a Pre-Construction Services Agreement to help protect our time so we don’t get through an entire design and get them numbers at the end to have them choose to work with someone else.

Is there a fee to do the bid portion?

If you have the scope of the project mentioned above already prepared, and you are just having us give you a bid, there is no fee. But if you are having us design the project for you and spend substantial time, we will charge for our time.

Does a bid change depending on the time of year?

Right now in the construction world it is very interesting what is going on with material pricing. Due to the recent discussions on tariffs and the political climate pricing has gone up in the last 3-6 months. Most suppliers are going to increase their prices it will generally be at the start of the year.

When is the best time to get a bid?

As far as response time and ability to turn around bids , that happening through the winter is generally better for contractors. Summer is their busy time of year.
When should you plan to start getting bids if you want to start your project in the spring?

The further in advance you can start planning your project and select a contractor the better. At Northfield Construction Company we have always seen that work out better for our clients. You can go one of two routes: Developing a plan an architect or draftsperson and then going out and having it bid amongst multiple people. The other option is get a contractor on board up front, interview them and ask them the right questions: What is their capacity? How much work do they self perform? Getting them involved early and committing to work with them will usually get you the best price.

At Northfield Construction Company…

We do everything completely open book so you see everything that goes into the process. All our sub bids, you know what our mark ups are going into, what our generally conditions are, and what we are running for profits. We try to be very transparent in the process.

With pricing increasing and changing throughout year, do prices get locked in?

Once we get into a contract with a client we lock in our pricing, unless something changes to the scope of the project or there is concealed conditions, those prices aren’t going anywhere.

Any final advice for someone looking to start the bidding process?

Make sure you are using yours and the contractors time wisely, be up front if you are going the multiple bids route. If you are going that route, make sure you have a well defined scope and written up and drawn up plan.

If you’re wanting to pick the contractor based on past performance, merit, and ability to do the work – which is the route we suggest here at Northfield Construction Company – you are more likely to get the product you want for the right price.

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