How Do You Compare Different Concrete Contractors’ Bids?
If you’ve got a bid for your project in hand, there are a few things you have to think about. We are talking specifically about commercial concrete and industrial concrete projects. Residential projects have a different set of considerations, though there is a little overlap.
You’ve got several bids now from different concrete contractors, so how do you tell the difference between one and the other? You’re getting ready to call back the first concrete contractor and you want to have an idea in mind for what to ask to really sort out the proposal and compare apples to apples.
Here are 5 Questions You Need to Ask your Concrete Contractor to Evaluate your Commercial Project Bids.
- What’s Your Schedule Look Like?
- Can You Do Concrete Projects in the Winter?
- What is the Concrete or Asphalt Mix Design?
- What About ADA Compliance?
- Is the Reinforcement or Insulation Included?
Of course, these aren’t the only five questions you can ask a concrete contractor to evaluate your bids. You can ask more. It’s not illegal to ask your estimator more questions than these five. These are just the ones that we find to be the most useful questions when evaluating our bids against your goals.
These aren’t in order of importance either. Let’s go through each question one-by-one.
What’s Your Schedule Look Like?
This is important because you have a business to run, customers to serve and things to manufacture and ship. You need concrete or asphalt in order to make that happen, but in the meantime while that’s being installed, you could have some downtime.
So a smart business manager or owner is going to look at their calendar first. When can you afford some downtime? When’s it going to hurt the least? When is strategically a good time for a project?
When you plan your project strategically and get your project scheduled early, you absolutely have an advantage. When comparing bids, make sure your concrete contractor not only can match your schedule needs but also can give you the shortest downtime in that window if that’s critical to hitting your objectives.
Can You Do Concrete Projects in the Winter?
Most businesses slow down in the wintertime especially commercial businesses in Minnesota like outdoor retail. You don’t want to be doing projects in your peak season if you can avoid it. So why not get it done in the off-season?
If your concrete contractor has the tools to get the job done over the winter (even a Minnesota Winter!) then you have another option on the table. It can be a more expensive option, so you have to plan strategically. Consider if the additional cost to you will be less than your anticipated revenue loss should you do the project in your peak season.
This doesn’t apply to major asphalt work, though. As we said in another blog, Asphalt can’t get done in the winter. Full stop.
Do the math. Make some actuarial tables. Once you get it figured, now you can start to evaluate the advantages!
What is the Concrete or Asphalt Mix Design?
Does your bid include the mix design? Sometimes it will and sometimes it won’t. Goodmanson Construction will specify in our quotes what the asphalt or concrete mix design is for a few reasons:
- It is often outlined in the plans for a major project what the PSI or other properties of the material needs to have in order to meet specifications.
- It is simply good practice for customers to see in writing what specifically the contractor has offered to do.
This is where you will often find a major difference when evaluating quotes. Say you get two quotes and one comes in way lower than another bid. Your temptation might be to take the low quote just because it’s going to look good to save some money for the company.
But wait, are you actually getting the same thing for a lower price, or are you getting something different?
A sidewalk isn’t just a sidewalk. A parking lot isn’t just a parking lot. These are features made out of material, and what that material’s specifications are matters for its use and durability.
So a contractor might try to undercut the competition by using an inferior mix design and just not specify what the mix design is or what it’s rated for in order to present a potential client with a very tempting low price.
If you see a big difference between proposals’ price tags and one has included the mix design specs and the other proposal hasn’t? Make sure you go back and get the specs.
What about ADA Compliance?
ADA compliance can be the difference between paying for a cheap parking lot and paying for a cheap parking lot.
If your contractor doesn’t take ADA compliance into account when building you something that requires it (and most flatwork does have ADA compliance considerations if there’s going to be humans anywhere near it) then not only will you pay for that parking lot once, you’ll pay for it again when you have to settle or lose an ADA lawsuit.
Getting sued for ADA compliance violations is not part of anyone’s business plan. At least we hope not. But some contractors will skip over ADA compliance in order to save time and money and give you, once again, a very tempting low bid.
So ask them if they’ve done a full review of ADA compliance and accounted for it in their design plans and make sure you get their answer in writing. If you can’t get your potential contractor to commit: run!
Is there Reinforcement or Insulation included in the quote?
Your concrete is going to be subject to all kinds of different forces and motion. It doesn’t matter whether it’s just people walking on it or vehicle traffic. Physics is still at play and the natural forces of the earth still act on it year after year.
We say this because you have a choice to put in rebar or fiber reinforcement in your concrete, and you have an option to insulate your concrete. We’ve done different blogs on each of these, but in brief: these two additional features can extend the life of the concrete surface and keep it both looking good and performing well over the many years you have it.
Does the low bid you have in hand mention anything about reinforcement or insulation while the high bid seems to have it in there? You may want to call that low bid back and ask them about it.
This can spare you change orders later on which then add up to more than the difference between the two proposals in surprise costs. Or even worse they start pouring and you realize they didn’t reinforce the concrete where you thought they would do that, so they have to stop and put down reinforcement–thus adding days onto the project time and screwing up your original timeline for project completion.
Goodmanson Construction has been around the block enough times to know what works and what doesn’t.
And what works for us is transparency in our proposals. We know we aren’t likely going to be your low bid right out of the gate. But take a moment to review your proposals and check them over.
Make sure you really are getting the best deal possible rather than just guaranteeing yourself a headache later.
You can start by getting an estimate from us today.