Tenders and quotes

Tenders allow you to compare contractors to determine the best fit for the job.

Open and closed tenders

Most renovation projects require contractors who have special skills and experience. Limiting tenderers to a small group of known, reliable and experienced contractors or negotiating with a single suitable contractor (who should be involved throughout the design process) is more likely to ensure a successful project outcome. 

Open tenders are generally unsuitable for renovation projects as the approach to pricing can vary widely, making the acceptance of any particular tender risky for the owner.

Owners should be prepared to pay for the designer’s time during pricing and construction so that queries from the builder can be answered and the recommendations on the acceptability of quotes can be made to the owner.

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Tender documents

When preparing tender documents for a renovation project, it is a good idea to start off with a sheet with all the key elements of the project in one simple list. The items should include:

  • tender/quoting period 
  • who the quote/tender is to be submitted to 
  • conditions of tender
  • type and conditions of contract (whether it is full contract or labour-only)
  • scope of works
  • specialist work
  • the process for the builder to follow where they identify gaps in information supplied 
  • anticipated construction period.

Other items that may need to be covered:

  • Is the house going to be occupied during work? Working around an occupying owner can make the project more complex and generally increases the time needed to complete the project, so having the owner move out during construction will make the job easier for the builder.
  • What work (if any) will the owner be responsible for?

The request for tender should define what is to be priced and the date tenders are required. The tenderer should not have to make assumptions about materials or finishes – this can lead to inaccuracies and disputes.

Additional information required from tenderers

When a price or tender is being submitted, the contractor should also be asked to:

  • provide hourly rates for additional work not identified in the contract documentation
  • identify the margin to be applied to additional materials required – the additional amount of material used can be readily measured or supported by purchase invoices
  • identify where sums have been allowed for portions of work (other than those already identified in the contract documents) because the tender has been unable to price the work with certainty. 

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Assessing tender documents

Tenderers’ figures should be assessed properly before the designer submits recommendations to the owner. 

The decision of who to use should not be based purely on price – it is important to consider the experience that contractors have with this type of project and whether they are able to cope with the scope of the job.