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Tips for tendering

By Uwe Putlitz*
Tendering for building work requires careful deliberation to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

The Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC) is a non-profit South African company that represents building owners and developers, professional consultants, and building contractors who provide input for the compilation of a comprehensive suite of JBCC building contracts.

Before you take on a tender, some important points need to be considered.

Opportunity
What is your current workload? How long would it be before you run out of work? Can you access (or are you able to access) the appropriate human and other resources?

Competition
Who else is tendering? How desperate are you to secure the work as the lowest tenderer as opposed to being the best tenderer? If you are the lowest tenderer, could you lose money and consequently deliver a job of poor quality, leading to early termination and a dispute?

Tender documents
Are your tender documents properly compiled to quote for the project? Is the construction information complete?

Building contract
If any deviations from the standard JBCC building contract exist, are these listed in the contract data or in the preliminary bill of quantities? Are any unusual payment conditions, or unusual guarantees or insurances called for? Will you have to work with as yet unspecified nominated subcontractors and direct contractors?

Site
Have you inspected the site? If so, do the drawings and the descriptions provided make sense to you? Is there access to the site, place for site huts, equipment and material storage? Do you have to employ local staff and labour with unique payment conditions and whose skills may be suspect?

Existing/adjoining buildings
If this is an existing building, has a professional engineer provided input regarding the method of construction, precautions to be taken, and so on?

Restrictions
Are there building restrictions, such as limited working hours, noise and dust limitations, that may influence the method and programming of your work? Will you have to complete the excavations and foundations during the rainy season?

Completion
Does the work have to be completed in sections or as a whole? Are the intended dates for practical completion realistic? Are the specified materials and goods readily available?

Risks
Do you know the client and have you had any bad experiences with this client before? Have you worked with the project consultants before?

Perhaps the most important point to consider before tendering is that if you are awarded the tender, are you be able to complete the project on time, to the specified standard, and make a fair enough profit to remain in business?

*Uwe Putlitz is the CEO of the Joint Building Contracts Committee. 

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