Where I see procrastination, and when that is overcome

August 07, 2011
Bozeman, Montana
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Where I see procrastination, and when that is overcome.


A failure to do a thorough and complete job, really play itself out is in the construction industry.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve waited and waited for a bid, a call back for requested clarification, pricing or whatever as the clock ticks down against a submittal deadline.  And as many times I’ve been guilty myself; of procrastinating when it comes to getting an estimate or proposal completed.  I’ll do just about anything rather than diving into an estimate; cut the lawn, wash the dishes, organize my office, watch a bad movie…..you name it. 


Why would I rather wash the dishes than estimate the scope of work on a project for the purpose of preparing a proposal that might bring in a lucrative contract????   The answer is simple; I know in order to land the job my estimating must be super accurate, thoughtful, complete and competitive.  And the fact is that more often than not, the information we are provided leaves a lot of questions up in the air.  In other words, I cannot do a thorough job of estimating cost without having to seek clarification. And when I do that I inevitably encounter indecision or uncertainty.   And here’s the kicker; the amount of commitment and work it takes to truly anticipate the scope of work on any given project can only be justified if bidders can rely on getting the job so long as their pricing is fair and competitive.  This is the fundamental flaw in the way competitive bidding works in the marketplace.  The contract typically goes to low, qualified bidder.  But the bidder who does the most work in preparing the bid, the one who really puts his or her best foot forward, anticipating the full extent of the work required to get the job done properly, and without bullshit change orders, is at a competitive disadvantage.  The system favors the multi-tasking, A-D-D superficial bidding that comes with change order book open the day the project begins.  Wouldn’t it save all of us a lot of time if all the suppliers could simply post their unit costs on their websites saving us all of the time we waste calling one another, dancing the dance to get the work, anticipating that others will only bid what can be seen rather than what we know it will take?

Estimators could simply use one another’s unit pricing and qualify their budget proposals by referencing the source of unit pricing used and simply providing a line item for contingencies???????????????


The reason why we avoid certain work and other interpersonal contact is simple…..it is unrewarding.  We like doing work that can be completed.  And we don’t like stepping into uncomfortable interactions like talking to people looking for pricing then having to deal with them if we don’t get the job or decided not to use them.


What we need in the construction industry is easily available unit pricing clearly spelling out cost, inclusions and so on backed up by some recent examples of projects completed and the final cost for the installed work including changes orders together with an in place accounting for scope, (ie, here’s a photo of a home we just roofed with medium hand split shingles, installed with7 inchesof exposure at a 10:12 pitch with and bituthene used as dry in material and extended to48 inchesabove roof deck at adjacent wall structures at such n such time of year….total cost for same was xxxx and of that xxxx was charged for snow and ice removal….sub did not pay for lift equipment used for xx hours with GC’s operator nor did sub pay for cartage,  but did pay to load scrap shingles, etc into the contractors dumpster.  GC also provided on site power supply and sanitary facilities, invoices were submitted monthly and paid within15 days. Retainage was held in the amount of 10% and released xx days following completion).


Is there such a thing?


Comments (4)

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  • No-avatar-62
    Npavabout 9 years ago

    I remember in one of my college classes, my professor spoke of something similar that takes place in Canada. From what i remember an engineer does the quantity take offs and the bidders just put in the prices. Maybe someone who knows more of this method will chime in. If this is indeed how it works, it seems to be a more level playing field as every bidder has the same scope of work.

  • Thumb_logoAuthor
    CstmHmsMdeEasyabout 9 years ago

    it was a rhetorical question. An estimate is the sum of all its parts. What should and could happen is just a fallacy. We have all seen unit pricing based on regions but non of these take into consideration existing conditions or the client demeanor.

  • No-avatar-62
    Npavabout 9 years ago

    Posted by: CstmHmsMdeEasy

    it was a rhetorical question. An estimate is the sum of all its parts. What should and could happen is just a fallacy. We have all seen unit pricing based on regions but non of these take into consideration existing conditions or the client demeanor.

    I was only bringing to your attention a similar system. I do not believe there is a perfect system though there are better then ours i am sure. Every system will have flaws because there will always be a bidder who is not playing by the rules and cheats the system. For Example, one who does not pay fair wages to illegal employees in order to get a lower bid. Some guys live for change orders. They look for them before their bid proposal so they can set up a higher unit price on something they know they will need. We really need to enforce the laws that are already in place before we go making any changes.

  • Thumb_logoAuthor
    CstmHmsMdeEasyabout 9 years ago

    I wish our (U.S.A) architects and engineers did the take offs. thanks for pointing that out.

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