Bid proposal write ups

Dansos

Senior Member
Location
PA
Hey guys, I was wondering what, if any, software and/or templates you guys use to do your proposals....
90% of our work is either service calls or return customer work so we do not really spend a lot of time writing up proposals. Even when I do write one up, for an addition or a small re wire or remodel, it’s rarely more then a 2-3 page document. That being said, I never really created or purchased any sort of template or software that would generate a proposal.

This year we have expanded into larger projects, both resi and commercial, that have made me really lengthen proposals to 7-10+ pages. (Not that I’m complaining)
But certain write ups really get repetitious, like an office building that has 12-15 identical offices. I usually do a room by room breakdown of devices and fixtures (as laid out on prints) so there is NO argument when something is missing or when an extra charge is brought up.
Is it proper, when bidding off a set of prints, to hand in a paper stating something to the time of, “Work to be performed as laid out in prints. Total job cost $xx,xxx) ???? Or is a more thorough breakdown recommended/needed??
I know this may be a stupid question but the last thing I want to do is take a giant hit on a job or get into arguments/legal s*it bc of a proposal not being a certain way.
Side note: this proposal I am referring to IS NOT the contract that is getting signed by everyone. I have a contract that is templated so I can just add names and amounts of money on it and it states it refers to proposal #xxxxx.
Thanks guys for all the help you have given me since I joined here, I have really learned a ton of stuff and want to keep learning and/or helping others.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
If you are referring to the proposal in your contract, then the proposal is part of the contract. This means it has to be written properly or you can get yourself in trouble i.e. the proposal language is enforceable. The proposals I write have signature blocks on them for both parties which makes them a binding contract when signed. I suggest you have a contracts lawyer help you decide what should be in there.

In my personal opinion, and I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, I always try to incorporate the blueprints (and written specifications if any) by reference because they really are the final word on what is supposed to be done. You should supply enough information so that exact blueprint and specs can be identified which means the date, version number, author, and client. You don't want somebody slipping in a later revision and claiming you must do what was changed or added. Your proposal should specify what you are planning to do that is different from the prints and specs. For example, the prints show many more outlets than required and you want to save the client some money so you specify fewer outlets in certain rooms and you specify exactly what you plan to do.

If you are planning on doing exactly what is in the prints and specs and they are sufficiently detailed then your proposal could just be the references and a price for doing it.
 
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cdslotz

Senior Member
Yes this^^^
You can have a basic "boiler plate" proposal/scope letter that you can pull up and fill in the pertinent information.
Mine always started with what my bid was based on and I listed plan and specification date, addendums and drawing sheets that are included.
After that I listed specific "inclusions" and specific "exclusions".
 

Dansos

Senior Member
Location
PA
Thank you. I didn’t really know if writing a proposal that simply states that the price refers to doing following prints. Easy enough though lol. Will save me some serious time of the prints as half decent
 

cdslotz

Senior Member
Not to belabor the point, but if the prints are only half decent, then add enough information to your proposal to make the package "full decent". Half decent in a binding contract will get you in trouble..
Wrong....bad prints/good prints are the contract....period
 

Dansos

Senior Member
Location
PA
Wrong....bad prints/good prints are the contract....period
That was my problem when first using prints to bid jobs. I would think to myself, “these are terrible, lots of things are missing”. But at the end of the day, if the owners sign off on them, then that’s what they want and they will have to deal with all the extra charges
 

stevenje

Senior Member
Location
Yachats Oregon
That was my problem when first using prints to bid jobs. I would think to myself, “these are terrible, lots of things are missing”. But at the end of the day, if the owners sign off on them, then that’s what they want and they will have to deal with all the extra charges
Make sure that the owner is fully aware that the prints are not complete. No verbal agreement on anything, everything needs to be documented.
 

Dansos

Senior Member
Location
PA
Make sure that the owner is fully aware that the prints are not complete. No verbal agreement on anything, everything needs to be documented.
Well if the proposal is written up to complete all work on prints, it is understood that if it’s not on the prints, it’s not included in the price.
i do usually let the people know if there is something missing or things that I would recommend being done that are not in the specs, but at the end of the day, people don’t read contracts thoroughly enough. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “I thought that was included” lol
 

brantmacga

Senior Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical contractor
7-10 pages sounds long-winded.

Mine is generally this .... I specify each drawing sheet the proposal is based on, the original drawing date, latest revision date, each addendum number, architect name on drawings, engineer name on drawings.

If there are 20 E-sheets, I list them all. As well as any other drawing sheet that has anything electrical that is part of the EC scope. That could be A-sheets, M&P sheets, landscape plans, civils, etc.

Then I list my qualifications and exclusions which are usually around 8-12 each. Like who provides fixtures and gear, bonding, temp power, site specific items like boring, blasting, concrete, etc... Things that I will or will not do that isn’t drawn out in the plans but could be assumed.

I try to fit the proposal into less than 2 pages; most are a single page. Any pages after that is usually itemized costs requested as part of the bid request, or VE options.

It’s generally assumed when you turn in a proposal, you’ve included everything required. I usually get a phone call within the hour of the bid deadline to ask, “do you have everything?”, and sometimes specific questions about big ticket items.

The finer details will come in the buyout process.


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cdslotz

Senior Member
Make sure that the owner is fully aware that the prints are not complete. No verbal agreement on anything, everything needs to be documented.
The owner hires and architect and engineer....not you (if you are bidding with a GC). You don't owe the owner any explanation. Plans are dated and that's what you base your price on. Even plans marked "for permit" may not be complete.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
The owner hires and architect and engineer....not you (if you are bidding with a GC). You don't owe the owner any explanation. Plans are dated and that's what you base your price on. Even plans marked "for permit" may not be complete.
This is one way to go, but it's the contentious way. I prefer to make the owner aware of discrepancies I find and items I think are missing or wrong. I prefer to have a clear understanding of what they want and for them to have a clear understanding of what I plan to do. I don't like the yelling that occurs when they realize late in the project that they are not getting what they expect and sometimes that yelling turns into a lawsuit you have to spend time and money to defend. Yes, there are probably more of those lucrative change orders if you don't point out the problems beforehand, but I prefer an amicable relationship with my client even if it means I make somewhat less on the job. All you change order millionaires can laugh at me now.

chnage order boat.jpg
 

Dansos

Senior Member
Location
PA
This is one way to go, but it's the contentious way. I prefer to make the owner aware of discrepancies I find and items I think are missing or wrong. I prefer to have a clear understanding of what they want and for them to have a clear understanding of what I plan to do. I don't like the yelling that occurs when they realize late in the project that they are not getting what they expect and sometimes that yelling turns into a lawsuit you have to spend time and money to defend. Yes, there are probably more of those lucrative change orders if you don't point out the problems beforehand, but I prefer an amicable relationship with my client even if it means I make somewhat less on the job. All you change order millionaires can laugh at me now.

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100% on this. My past experience has seen countless owners thank us and never hire another EC again bc we pointed out things that were overlooked. On the other hand, we have also spent time in litigations and/or got stuck bc the owners thought we were the bad guys when we handed them large bills aside from the contract estimates. Maybe I’m just a nice guy.
 

cdslotz

Senior Member
This is one way to go, but it's the contentious way. I prefer to make the owner aware of discrepancies I find and items I think are missing or wrong. I prefer to have a clear understanding of what they want and for them to have a clear understanding of what I plan to do. I don't like the yelling that occurs when they realize late in the project that they are not getting what they expect and sometimes that yelling turns into a lawsuit you have to spend time and money to defend. Yes, there are probably more of those lucrative change orders if you don't point out the problems beforehand, but I prefer an amicable relationship with my client even if it means I make somewhat less on the job. All you change order millionaires can laugh at me now.

View attachment 2552864
Not contentious at all. My bid process were large commercial jobs bidding to GC's I have been bidding for years. Some bids could take a week or weeks to do. My opportunity to point out commissions, discrepancies is pre-bid through RFI's and communication through my GC. If they get corrected, it was through addendum, which goes out to everyone including my competition. If they don't get corrected prior to bid date, I can qualify my bid.
None of this really applies in resi, as you do have a closer relation with an owner
 

brantmacga

Senior Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical contractor
Not contentious at all. My bid process were large commercial jobs bidding to GC's I have been bidding for years. Some bids could take a week or weeks to do. My opportunity to point out commissions, discrepancies is pre-bid through RFI's and communication through my GC. If they get corrected, it was through addendum, which goes out to everyone including my competition. If they don't get corrected prior to bid date, I can qualify my bid.
None of this really applies in resi, as you do have a closer relation with an owner
Exactly what I was coming back to say. 99% of the time I don’t have a relationship with the owner.

Just started a new project bid this morning, plans are a steaming pile of .....

Sent a 20+ question RFI. At least 8 of those were related to “contractor must coordinate with other trades for equipment specifications prior to submitting a bid.” Um, no. It’s a grocery store. They literally left the equipment schedules blank for all of the HVACR stuff. Oh and there was a line that said “include nLIGHT control system” with zero details whatsoever. The fault current was listed as xx,xxx A and 22kaic on all the distribution for a 1000/3 delta. Yeh right.

And the grammar mistakes.... oh my. I’d be flat out ashamed if I were that engineer.


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gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
The owner hires and architect and engineer....not you (if you are bidding with a GC). You don't owe the owner any explanation. Plans are dated and that's what you base your price on. Even plans marked "for permit" may not be complete.
Most plan sets include a catch-all in the general notes that "contractor will provide a code-compliant installation that meets the customer/owner's needs". That right there is a "Bouncing Betty" designed to take you off at the knees as far as change orders go. Be explicit regarding any reservations or short-comings in the plans and specs. Advice from a guy whose company puts that phrase on their drawings.
 
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