Monthly Archives: April 2009

Prime Bids

We prepared a multiple prime estimate last week. In a multiple prime bid, each discipline (HVAC, plumbing, etc.) is given a contract which makes you responsible to the owner or owners representative, instead of a general contractor. The general contractor is eliminated. The best feature of this arraingement may be that the general contractor can not hold up your payments. For those of you not familiar with multiple prime bids, the differences important to an estimator are as follows:

  • You can not exclude or qualify anything.
  • You need to include allowances for items you may normally exclude, such as painting and patching related to your work. 
  • Temporary power will need to be provided for your work at a minimum.
  • You will need to use the bid form provided in the bid documents. This includes filling out and signing all of the other documents that are required, such as subcontractor listings and minority bidder requirements.
  • You may need to do types of work you are not used to, such as chain link fencing and masonry walls. You can subcontract this work, but you can not exclude it. If it is in your scope, you must include it in your bid.

It is very important to read all of the bid documents related to your contract. There may be documents such as a bid invitation, instructions to bidders, scope statements and specific instructions for each bid package (discipline). These documents define your responsibilities, and often define scope items for your bid package such as temporary power and access panels.

Although prime bids require more paperwork, many contractors find them attractive because a general contractor is not involved.

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Long Island Railroad

We bid a project for the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) last Friday. The scope was to  convert the underpass at Sutphin Blvd and the LIRR Jamaica Station into a retail center. This was a very interesting project. The inside of the project was fairly standard, but the outside brought a little of Las Vegas to New York.

The sidewalk had uplighting, downlighting, in-sidewalk lighting and a ceiling with hundreds of color changing LED fixtures. In addition, low-bay lighting was added to the bridge structure over Sutphin Blvd. I want to see this when it is finished.

Of note on this project was problems with drawing scale. Both the digital and paper documents were not even close to the stated scales. This problem continues to get more prevalent. On some documents the inacurracy is subtle, only making your takeoffs just a little bit short. Other projects like this one will have you winning a project with half the needed conduit in your estimate. I strongly recommend that all drawings be checked for scale accuracy before starting takeoff.