Establish a Clear Scope of Work

Before selecting a contractor for your next commercial roofing or building exterior restoration project, be sure you have a clear, consistent and understandable scope of work. Preferably, you (the building owner representative) have issued the scope of work, or the contractor may state the scope of work in their proposal. Either way, nothing should be left to chance. If you go by the motto of, “We’ll work out the kinks later”, you are setting yourself up for trouble. Once you have a clear scope of work, the first step in selecting a contractor is to pre-qualify contractors who have expressed an interest in bidding.

Step 1: Pre-qualification

The first step is pre-qualifying your contractors. Those that can stand up to a rigorous pre-qualification process are the type of contractors you want bidding for your work. A rigorous pre-qualification process will help you obtain bids from contractors that are qualified and experienced enough to handle your project. You can read more about the pre-qualification of bidders here.

Step 2: Pre-bid Meeting

The next step in the process is the pre-bid meeting. This meeting should include a visual inspection of the area(s) being considered for replacement and/or renovation. As an owner, be sure to have someone taking minutes or, even better, audio record the meeting (even if this is just a recording using a cell phone). During the pre-bid meeting, questions from bidders should be encouraged. And keep in mind, the questions generated during the pre-bid meeting and visual inspection will likely result in good suggestions and recommendations as well as provide some insight into the experience level of each contractor. This will save you time and money in the long run by avoiding the “we’ll work out the kinks later” motto as well as the contractor making promises that are potentially not kept in the end. Following the pre-bid meeting, be sure to transcribe the audio of your video file – including questions and answers – and disperse it to all parties involved. 

If you have not already established a bid date, one should be agreed to before the end of the pre-bid meeting. Be sure to give the contractors enough time to complete detailed proposals. Trying to hurry the process of receiving proposals can result in contractors submitting higher bids than necessary for your project or dropping out altogether if they feel they do not have adequate time to properly evaluate the project. 

Step 3: Evaluation

Once all bids from pre-qualified contractors have been submitted by the prescribed deadline, building owners must make time to evaluate each proposal. A good proposal will be itemized, detailed and provide a clear scope of work. If any exclusions are noted, address them before selecting that contractor. Overlooking small details in the proposals could cost you big money once the project has been started. 

During this bid evaluation process, two specific red flags to watch out for are:

  1. A wide disparity or gap in contractors’ prices.
  2. Seriously considering a less-than detailed proposal for the work, especially if this proposal is the lowest bid.

The presence of such red flags may indicate that contractors do not fully understand an owners’ expectations, or contractors have failed to fully evaluate the work required. Regardless, it is important to pay close attention to these subtleties as they can help inform your final decision. A thorough bid evaluation process will help owners weed out unsuitable contractors and narrow down the selection to the most qualified contractor for your job.

Remember: commercial roofing and building envelope exterior repair or restoration projects are no small undertaking. They can be a complete success for your organization or turn out to be a disaster. But, if you follow the steps listed above, you will more likely have success, and your extra effort in the beginning will save your organization a lot of heartache in the end.

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