Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans? - Business - Contractor Talk

Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?

 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 07-07-2020, 10:01 AM   #1
New Guy
 
GreenTek's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contracting
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Posts: 28
Rewards Points: 56

Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


We are getting a lot of requests to bid on big commercial projects, and since it costs money to have someone estimate each set of plans, I was curious if any GCs on here charge for those estimations or still offer free estimates in hopes to recoup the cost in winning bids.
GreenTek is offline  

Warning: The topics covered on this site include activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. ContractorTalk.com DOES NOT guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this site. Always use proper safety precaution and reference reliable outside sources before attempting any construction or remodeling task!

   

Advertisement

 

Old 07-07-2020, 11:13 AM   #2
The Sheriff

 
Jaws's Avatar
 
Trade: Builder
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 25,287
Rewards Points: 16,222

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


If you can get it good for you brother. I do some commercial work, public and private, and that is the only " bids " I don't get paid for. Lol.

The positive for commercial, not TI stuff but something of size, is it knocks the wannabes put of the process. If you can't fromt 100k and pay your subs and suppliers and wait on a check public work aint gonna happen. Raises the bar

The negatives - Huge PITA. Specs are never complete, AHJ will disagree with RFP specs when its time to bid, they will want to value engineer (lower cost), they will plead poverty when changes come up etc...

I'm doing a simple addition a public gym right now, the way I handled the dog chit specs they gave me i knew wouldn't pass muster with the AHJ was made my bid with the money included to ge an architect to fix plans and stamp (yeah, mfs gave me a non stamped chicken scratch drawing of what they wanted), made my own legal specs for fire rated doors, closed cell spray foam etc... added a few grand to each of my MEP subs bids for unknowns. This time I got the job, and did just that. About 40% done, run into a lot of BS, no backflow for instance, hvac upped bid for a change AHJ made to specs for fresh air, busted some pipes doing underground etc... No change orders. That little penny anty stuff I include a line item called BS on my spreadsheet.

Moneys great, once the actual work begins and they are usually fast projects. Nice to cash flow 30- 40k a month for 3-4 months on one project, instead of 12-15k for the same dollar amount project over 10-12 months (house) Wouldnt want it to be a steady diet though, custom homes and whole house remodels are my bag

There's a real pro on here, I can't remmwber his name. Estimator/PM, I'll find his name and post. Might reach out

Griz is a commercial guy too.

Sent from my SM-N970U using Tapatalk

Advertisement

__________________
"If I have wounds I have two choices, See myself as a victim or see myself as a warrior"

Cheif Joseph
Jaws is online now  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Jaws For This Useful Post:
GreenTek (07-07-2020), Seven-Delta-FortyOne (07-07-2020)
Old 07-07-2020, 11:13 AM   #3
The Sheriff

 
Jaws's Avatar
 
Trade: Builder
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 25,287
Rewards Points: 16,222

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Another good one to talk to is Fishindude. PM maybe. Total pro

Sent from my SM-N970U using Tapatalk
__________________
"If I have wounds I have two choices, See myself as a victim or see myself as a warrior"

Cheif Joseph
Jaws is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to Jaws For This Useful Post:
GreenTek (07-07-2020)
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 07-07-2020, 11:16 AM   #4
New Guy
 
GreenTek's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contracting
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Posts: 28
Rewards Points: 56

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaws View Post
If you can get it good for you brother. I do some commercial work, public and private, and that is the only " bids " I don't get paid for. Lol.

The positive for commercial, not TI stuff but something of size, is it knocks the wannabes put of the process. If you can't fromt 100k and pay your subs and suppliers and wait on a check public work aint gonna happen. Raises the bar

The negatives - Huge PITA. Specs are never complete, AHJ will disagree with RFP specs when its time to bid, they will want to value engineer (lower cost), they will plead poverty when changes come up etc...

I'm doing a simple addition a public gym right now, the way I handled the dog chit specs they gave me i knew wouldn't pass muster with the AHJ was made my bid with the money included to ge an architect to fix plans and stamp (yeah, mfs gave me a non stamped chicken scratch drawing of what they wanted), made my own legal specs for fire rated doors, closed cell spray foam etc... added a few grand to each of my MEP subs bids for unknowns. This time I got the job, and did just that. About 40% done, run into a lot of BS, no backflow for instance, hvac upped bid for a change AHJ made to specs for fresh air, busted some pipes doing underground etc... No change orders. That little penny anty stuff I include a line item called BS on my spreadsheet.

Moneys great, once the actual work begins and they are usually fast projects. Nice to cash flow 30- 40k a month for 3-4 months on one project, instead of 12-15k for the same dollar amount project over 10-12 months (house) Wouldnt want it to be a steady diet though, custom homes and whole house remodels are my bag

There's a real pro on here, I can't remmwber his name. Estimator/PM, I'll find his name and post. Might reach out

Griz is a commercial guy too.

Sent from my SM-N970U using Tapatalk
That's awesome man! Sounds like you got your stuff together and dialed in.
GreenTek is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to GreenTek For This Useful Post:
Jaws (07-07-2020)
Old 07-07-2020, 11:18 AM   #5
The Sheriff

 
Jaws's Avatar
 
Trade: Builder
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 25,287
Rewards Points: 16,222

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenTek View Post
That's awesome man! Sounds like you got your stuff together and dialed in.
I don't do a lot of commercial, I used to be a commercial carpenter and superintendent I still like to do it from time to time. Just a house builder playing commercial GC

holler at me if you want to get on the phone about it or something. I'd be happy to walk you through your first one
__________________
"If I have wounds I have two choices, See myself as a victim or see myself as a warrior"

Cheif Joseph
Jaws is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to Jaws For This Useful Post:
GreenTek (07-07-2020)
Old 07-07-2020, 11:56 AM   #6
Fire up the BBQ
 
griz's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: ex-calif
Posts: 23,395
Rewards Points: 2,516

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Never heard of a commercial client paying for bidding their project. Too many bidders available and don't think PW jobs allow for it.

Only way you might get paid is on an invitation to design and build.

What kind of projects are you bidding?
__________________
SOME JOBS JUST AREN'T WORTH DOING:
griz is online now  
Old 07-07-2020, 11:57 AM   #7
Fire up the BBQ
 
griz's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: ex-calif
Posts: 23,395
Rewards Points: 2,516

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


How much of what you are bidding are you getting?
__________________
SOME JOBS JUST AREN'T WORTH DOING:
griz is online now  
Old 07-07-2020, 11:59 AM   #8
New Guy
 
GreenTek's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contracting
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Posts: 28
Rewards Points: 56

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Quote:
Originally Posted by griz View Post
Never heard of a commercial client paying for bidding their project. Too many bidders available and don't think PW jobs allow for it.

Only way you might get paid is on an invitation to design and build.

What kind of projects are you bidding?
Commercial TI projects typically. We've done residential and a lot of residential over 5 years, but we really want to create operations specifically for commercial projects. We just sent out 4-5 bids right now. From past bidding we usually get around 35-50% of bids.
GreenTek is offline  
Old 07-07-2020, 12:04 PM   #9
Fire up the BBQ
 
griz's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: ex-calif
Posts: 23,395
Rewards Points: 2,516

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


do you attend bid openings or get the results?

how close are you to the low bidder?

commercial bidding is quite a game, very cut throat.

make certain you only bid what is called for on plans & specs, not what or how you think it should be.
__________________
SOME JOBS JUST AREN'T WORTH DOING:
griz is online now  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to griz For This Useful Post:
GreenTek (07-07-2020), Jaws (07-07-2020)
Old 07-07-2020, 12:06 PM   #10
New Guy
 
GreenTek's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contracting
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Posts: 28
Rewards Points: 56

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Quote:
Originally Posted by griz View Post
do you attend bid openings or get the results?

how close are you to the low bidder?

commercial bidding is quite a game, very cut throat.

make certain you only bid what is called for on plans & specs, not what or how you think it should be.
Ok thanks. I've never been invited to a bid before. Usually the prime GC or direct client sends me plans to bid on all divisions. Is it pretty competitive for commercial projects? From what I hear there is a shortage of good contractors in Southern California, so we are trying to capitalize on that.
GreenTek is offline  
Old 07-07-2020, 12:11 PM   #11
Fire up the BBQ
 
griz's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: ex-calif
Posts: 23,395
Rewards Points: 2,516

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


commercial is VERY COMPETITIVE.

bid shopping is quite common.

shortage of good contractors EVERYWHERE...

finding quality labor is even worse...

any idea of how close you are on any of the bids yet?

be careful on bidding too many and getting more than you can handle.
__________________
SOME JOBS JUST AREN'T WORTH DOING:
griz is online now  
Old 07-07-2020, 12:16 PM   #12
New Guy
 
GreenTek's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contracting
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Posts: 28
Rewards Points: 56

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Quote:
Originally Posted by griz View Post
commercial is VERY COMPETITIVE.

bid shopping is quite common.

shortage of good contractors EVERYWHERE...

finding quality labor is even worse...

any idea of how close you are on any of the bids yet?

be careful on bidding too many and getting more than you can handle.
I agree. I think we will wait to see what happens to the past 4-5 bids. I will follow up with them. Wow, if there are that many GCs that are bidding on these projects, it may not be worth it if there is too much competition. I have a engineer that does my biddings off the plans through the estimating software.
GreenTek is offline  
Old 07-07-2020, 12:43 PM   #13
Fire up the BBQ
 
griz's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: ex-calif
Posts: 23,395
Rewards Points: 2,516

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Not a fan of third party bidding or computer bidding.

You can miss many important/expensive details.

When material shows up too much time spent figuring what its for.

Computers don't read specs very well and if you miss something it wont go well...
__________________
SOME JOBS JUST AREN'T WORTH DOING:
griz is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to griz For This Useful Post:
GreenTek (07-07-2020)
Old 07-07-2020, 04:15 PM   #14
Pro
 
Kingcarpenter1's Avatar
 
Trade: GC carpenter
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 334
Rewards Points: 8

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


If your getting 50% somethings wrong. If you think resi is doggy your in for quite the surprise. Can’t see how paying engineer to software bid is worthwhile but it’s your cake. Waaay too much detail to miss. If you have 5 jobs bid & land say half can you float them. Can you float a few free changes they will pull a few of those much more costly than resi. As mentioned they shop bidders like a pimp shops crack. Been in that circle jerk more than a few. You think detail on resi is critical all I can say is check, check & recheck
Kingcarpenter1 is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Kingcarpenter1 For This Useful Post:
GreenTek (07-07-2020)
Old 07-07-2020, 04:40 PM   #15
Pro
 
Fishindude's Avatar
 
Trade: Industrial
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Indiana
Posts: 619
Rewards Points: 1,326

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


All I've ever done is commercial / industrial work. When I hung it up a couple years ago and sold out to the younger guys we were winning at least 50% of the work we quoted. Over 75% of our work was for repeat clients.

The trick to the whole thing is to carefully seek out and qualify your clients, then develop a relationship so that you can negotiate work rather than "competitively bid" for it. We had full time business development guys and spent a whole lot of effort maintaining relationships, providing exceptional service, etc.

Seek out the type of clients that have work going all the time, rather than the folks that build something every few years. Once you win over and have trust with one of these outfits with ongoing work, you have a source of ongoing revenue vs always wondering where the next job is going to come from. I know a few smaller industrial / commercial contractors that work almost exclusively with only one or two good clients.

Another trick you need up your sleeve as a GC is to be able to provide all of the upfront work such as; conceptualization, budgeting, engineering and design, etc. If you can get them talking to you early, help them develop the concept and budget, then engage in a design agreement, you can get the job off the street before your competitors know about it. If are content waiting for the client to hire an architect or engineer to spit out design work, you can just about count on winding up in a hard bidding situation.

Bidding work is expensive, so you need to be careful not spending a bunch of resources chasing stuff with low odds. Public work and much or the light duty retail stuff will always be hard bid. Good stuff to stay away from.

Contractors that don't sell, do design build work, or negotiate their work look at you like you're crazy. They can't imagine a client would hand you a big job without getting multiple bids. It's been our experience that the vast majority of private sector clients who do lots of building, prefer to work with a single contractor and or just a very select list of a couple contractors to quote their work. Once they know what builder(s) they can trust and depend on, it's to their advantage to streamline the process, negotiate work and eliminate the bidding hassles, etc.
Fishindude is offline  
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Fishindude For This Useful Post:
GreenTek (07-07-2020), griz (07-07-2020), Seven-Delta-FortyOne (07-07-2020)
Old 07-07-2020, 06:37 PM   #16
New Guy
 
GreenTek's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contracting
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Posts: 28
Rewards Points: 56

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishindude View Post
All I've ever done is commercial / industrial work. When I hung it up a couple years ago and sold out to the younger guys we were winning at least 50% of the work we quoted. Over 75% of our work was for repeat clients.

The trick to the whole thing is to carefully seek out and qualify your clients, then develop a relationship so that you can negotiate work rather than "competitively bid" for it. We had full time business development guys and spent a whole lot of effort maintaining relationships, providing exceptional service, etc.

Seek out the type of clients that have work going all the time, rather than the folks that build something every few years. Once you win over and have trust with one of these outfits with ongoing work, you have a source of ongoing revenue vs always wondering where the next job is going to come from. I know a few smaller industrial / commercial contractors that work almost exclusively with only one or two good clients.

Another trick you need up your sleeve as a GC is to be able to provide all of the upfront work such as; conceptualization, budgeting, engineering and design, etc. If you can get them talking to you early, help them develop the concept and budget, then engage in a design agreement, you can get the job off the street before your competitors know about it. If are content waiting for the client to hire an architect or engineer to spit out design work, you can just about count on winding up in a hard bidding situation.

Bidding work is expensive, so you need to be careful not spending a bunch of resources chasing stuff with low odds. Public work and much or the light duty retail stuff will always be hard bid. Good stuff to stay away from.

Contractors that don't sell, do design build work, or negotiate their work look at you like you're crazy. They can't imagine a client would hand you a big job without getting multiple bids. It's been our experience that the vast majority of private sector clients who do lots of building, prefer to work with a single contractor and or just a very select list of a couple contractors to quote their work. Once they know what builder(s) they can trust and depend on, it's to their advantage to streamline the process, negotiate work and eliminate the bidding hassles, etc.
Wow thanks for all the insight. So how do you estimate jobs? Do you have inhouse estimators that work manually off plans vs. outsourcing to an estimator?
GreenTek is offline  
Old 07-07-2020, 06:44 PM   #17
New Guy
 
GreenTek's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contracting
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Posts: 28
Rewards Points: 56

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


I have experience doing some commercial TI. Ground up commercial is way out of my league, but I'd like to refine the estimating process vs subbing out estimation to an estimation company.
GreenTek is offline  
Old 07-08-2020, 07:40 AM   #18
Pro
 
Fishindude's Avatar
 
Trade: Industrial
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Indiana
Posts: 619
Rewards Points: 1,326

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenTek View Post
Wow thanks for all the insight. So how do you estimate jobs? Do you have inhouse estimators that work manually off plans vs. outsourcing to an estimator?
Any contractor serious about staying in business DOES NOT outsource estimating. Estimating is often the determining factor if a project is a winner or a loser. Doesn't matter how good your construction skills are if the project was estimated incorrectly.

You need to break down jobs item by item into cost codes and charge costs accordingly to each item so that you know exactly what it cost to perform each item associated with the job. Save this information in a database and over time you will have a historical database of job costs for each particular item, so you can utilize it to determine productivity, etc. when estimating your next project.

If you don't understand this, you need to get some professional training in estimating and / or hire a professional estimator. I think it's pretty foolish for the boss of a construction company to not understand project pricing. You should be very involved with project pricing as that sets the tone for success or failure.
Fishindude is offline  
Old 07-08-2020, 08:14 AM   #19
Pro
 
Kingcarpenter1's Avatar
 
Trade: GC carpenter
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 334
Rewards Points: 8

Re: Do Charge For Estimating Commercial Plans?


Find a way to do it in house if it means training as Fishin mentioned. If you outsource estimating again that much more hassle & money lost. Sounds like your biting off more than you can spit out

Advertisement

Kingcarpenter1 is offline  



Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Join Now... It's Fast and FREE!

I am a professional contractor
I am a DIY Homeowner
Drywall Talk is for
PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTORS ONLY!

At DrywallTalk.com we cater exlusivly to professional contractors who make their living as a contractor. Knowing that many homeowners and DIYers are looking for a community to call home, we've created www.DIYChatroom.com DIY Chatroom is full of helpful advices and perfect for DIY homeowners.

Redirecing in 10 seconds
No Thanks
terms of service

Already Have an Account?