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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been installing for different stores my whole adult life. now i just opened my own store and an opportunity to bid on some high school renovations came up. i have never made a commercial bid before and i hate to pass this up. can anyone walk me through the process?
 

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I haven't bid on government stuff for years but I assume you will need to fill out prevailing wage statements and voc paperwork. Most of these things don't pay for 90 days either.
 

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What ever you charge it won't be enough....and they want you to do it for nothing...and IF they pay you,it will take months to go thru all the PROPER channels... been there,done that!!!
 

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I have bid the painting on most of the schools in Houston and have received contracts for many of them. It is true that they want it done for nothing and it is also true that it will take time to get your money but it is a doable deal. There are many successful companies bidding and laying the flooring in many schools today.

There are things that you can do to protect yourself and help assure your payment and these things should be done on every job.

Send in your proposal on a letterhead and use professional wording. On your proposal be real sure that you spell out everything that you intend to do and even things that you do not intend to do. Start a paper trail with your first proposal.

A couple of days after you bid the job you will want to get bid tabs. This is something easy to overlook but extremely important in landing a contract. Many times general contractors ask that you fax in a bid tab request. Most companies will give you bid tabs and those who wont shouldn't get any more bids from you. A bid tab is a cheap price to pay for getting an estimate and it sure isn't asking for too much. It is a standard business practice. The only one that will likely not give you a bid tab is the general contractor that has the low bid or is in running for the job and this is understandable.

Bid tabs will help you to see how your prices line up with other contractors bidding the same job. It also helps you to see who else bid this particular job. All of this is important if you are in the running on the job and if they call you back asking questions about inclusions, exclusions or pricing changes. Bid tabs also show the general contractor that you are interested in the job and that you will have the numbers used by other contractors bidding flooring on the same job. In some ways this will help keep the honest guys honest.

Usually you will have to work for 30 days to turn in a bill and it will take at least 30 days to get payment. Many times it might take longer. Often they might want you to prove the actual amount of work done that you are billing for. When you do finally get a payment there will be 10% retainage taken off of the top and you will not see this money until the job is complete, you have completed all punchlist items, turned in all paperwork as per the contract and the general contractor receives final payment on the job.

Keep a paper trail of everything you do on the job from beginning to end. Be sure all work orders are in writing and do not do anything extra without it being in writing. These guys will offer you the moon to get you to do something for free but without signed paperwork all you can hope to get from them for payment will be the moon, nothing that will pay your bills. Signed paperwork might be the only way you will get paid for extra work done.

Watch your lien rights. If a contractor gets behind on payments do not hesitate for a minute to file liens against the property. Check the lien laws in your state. In some states you can not file liens against government property including schools but there will be another method available to use to get your payment if the contractor defaults on your payment. In Texas it is the McGregor Act that protects the rights of workers on government properties.

For the most part the General Contractors that do this type of commercial work will try and get anything and everything they can from you for nothing. It HAS to be a part of your job to build a paper trail just to protect yourself and your wallet. With signed paperwork you can get your money. Without it you will not, regradless of any promises they make.

Be sure and take plenty of photos during a job. Don't just photograph things that look bad and problems but photograph the things that look good also. There might be a day that you will have to prove work to have been completed satisfactorily in order to receive payment. Take pictures of things stacked, stored or sitting on your floor that may cause damage. Pictures of people doing things over your finished floor that may cause damage should also be photographed. These photos should start on day 1 on the job and proceed right through the end of the job. Photograph your floors and everything else that is around them or may come in contact with your floors. Remember, these are your floors until you get paid for them. Damages to the floors will be paid for by you unless you have some form of proof that it wasn't you that caused the damage and photographs will be your best bet to do this.

The farther you get into a job and the 10% retainage they hold out of each monthly payment will start building up. The general contractor will use these funds to try and force you to do things not in the contract or fix damages by others. With the proper preparation and paper trail for such an event you will be in a legal position to collect your money regardless of the threats. This is your money that they are holding and using to threaten you with.

One of the smartest pieces of advice I ever received from a man was "plan today for a lawsuit tomorrow". By conducting your business as if you are planning for a lawsuit either by you or against you, the paper trail will be built and this is exactly what will keep you from having to go to court to collect your money.

You have to be vigilant in watching over every detail of your business on these commercial jobs in order to be successful on each of them.
 

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I have a friend that has been trying to break into commercial painting. This week I am going to takeoff a job for him, price it out, prepare the bid proposal, put my contact information on it for answering questions, bid the job and then get the bid tabs for him in hopes of helping him get a nice commercial job. This will be a school also.

If he gets the job maybe I will do some other things for him later to help him learn the ropes.

We did this once before but he didn't stay on top of things and he didn't have me help him and wound up getting taken for about $40K. I told him the entire job that he needed to take pictures but I guess he didn't see the need. Pictures would have made a difference. I also told him to file a lien when they didn't pay but again he didn't take advice. Once those lien rights ran out he didn't have a hope in collecting the outstanding money. These guys will do that if at all possible and I have a feeling my friend learned a valuable lesson.

It takes more than just knowing what to do. You have to actually do it, even if you don't see a need at the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
very helpful!

one thing i am worried about is asbestos... i have two sets of plans, one for the demo and one for the "addition" which i think just means the remodel. i am not sure if i am supposed to bid on the demo or not. usually with commercial work the demo is done when i get there...
then there is the format of my pricing do i just start a list for materials, labor and cost like residential? Am i supposed to float the materials cost until i get 30 days of work completed? its 3 floors of vct, carpet, and ceramic...
alot of work.
 

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There wont be any asbestos when you get there. The job will be certified asbestos free long before you ever see it. Chances are you will not do the demolition. If you are unsure be sure and add that as one of your exclusions, No Demolition.

It would be my guess that you start a list of labor and material or however you do residential. There are some good formats used by commercial people and some good software used as well.

Floating your money for material cost.

Chances are that much of your flooring, like many other products, will have dye lots. It would be best if you could purchase all materials at 1 time. Usually you can make arrangements with the general contractor to purchase the materials and go ahead and have them paid for. They may not pay your markup on the materials but they will pay the invoice amount. Sometimes they might require that you store the materials on the jobsite in a locked room. In a school they will be able to provide you a room to lock up. Sometimes they will pay it and allow you to store it at your shop. In some situations they may even require insurance on stored materials. This isn't usually the case. Normally getting materials paid for isn't a problem. You will want to set it up with the supplier to deliver it right before a billing date so that bill can be turned in and will be paid in 30 days or shortly after that. Your supplier will work with you on that too.
 

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I don't know exactly where you are in NC but here are a few more schools in your state that are bidding this month.

Project Name: Elkin High School - Phase II Project Type: Addition, Demolition, Remodeling, Renovation
Building Use: Educational, Fitness / Rec Centers Reported: 07/10/2009 Status: GC Bidding Private / Public: Public Value: $8,000,000 Project Address: 334 Elk Spur St. Elkin, NC 28621 County: Surry Bid Date: July 16, 2009 Est. Start Date: August 2009 Description
Renovation of and addition to an educational facility in Elkin. Completed working drawings call for the renovation of an existing 86,720-square-foot space and the addition of a 29,837-square-foot building for a school.

General contractor bids are due by July 16, 2009.

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Project Name: Banner Elk Elementary Project Type: New Construction, Site Work
Building Use: Educational Reported: 07/06/2009 Status: GC Bidding Private / Public: Public Value: $5,000,000 Project Address: To Be Determined Banner Elk, NC 28604 County: Avery Bid Date: July 29, 2009 Est. Start Date: September 2009 Description
Site work and new construction of an educational faculty in Banner Elk. Completed working drawings call for the construction of a 51,000-square-foot elementary school.

A pre-bid meeting is set for July 20, 2009. General contractor bids are due by July 29, 2009.

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Project Name: Glenn High School Addition and Partial Renovation Project Type: Addition, Renovation, Site Work
Building Use: Educational Reported: 07/01/2009 Status: GC Bidding Private / Public: Public Value: $7,200,000 Project Address: 1600 Union Cross Road Kernersville, NC 27284 County: Forsyth Bid Date: July 23 2009 Est. Start Date: August 2009 Description
Renovation of and addition to an educational facility in Kernersville. Completed working drawings call for the addition of approximately 54,528 square feet and renovation of approximately 12,000 square feet.

A pre-bid date has yet to be established on this project. General contractor bids are due by 3:00 p.m. on July 23, 2009.*

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Project Name: Walkertown High School and Middle School Project Type: New Construction, Site Work
Building Use: Educational Reported: 06/23/2009 Status: GC Bidding Private / Public: Public Value: $20,000,000 Project Address: To Be Announced Walkertown, NC 27051 County: Forsyth Bid Date: July 14, 2009 Est. Start Date: September 2009 Description
Site work and new construction of an educational facility in Walkertown. Completed working plans call for the construction of a 195,000-square-foot combined middle school and high school.

General contractor bids are due no later than July 14, 2009.

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Project Name: Neal Middle School Expansion and Revision
Project Type: Addition, Demolition, Remodeling, Site Work
Building Use: Educational Reported: 06/22/2009 Status: GC Bidding Private / Public: Public Value: $7,500,000 Project Address: 201 Baptist Road Durham, NC 27704 County: Durham Bid Date: July 23, 2009 Est. Start Date: September 2009 Description
Site work and new construction of an educational facility in Durham. Completed working drawings call for a 3,625-square-foot addition and 128,900-square-foot renovation of a middle school.

A pre-bid meeting will be held at 10:00 a.m. on July 9, 2009. General contractor bids are due by 3:00 p.m. on July 23, 2009. Interested parties should direct inquire to the owner.
 
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