This title reflects a growing trend I have seen since the recession started. I have been able to document the fact that many bidders are ignoring the specifications and bidding to the minimum electrical code requirements. Some are qualifying their bids as being per the NEC, believing that this relieves them of the responsibility to follow the specifications.
I understand the need to resort to this kind of bidding, but even though times are tough, this is a very risky practice. Sometimes the bidder gets away with this strategy, or is able to work out a deal with the owner. Other times, the bidder is made to comply with the specifications and will lose money on the project (if he does not walk off).
The most prevalent practice I have seen is bidders ignoring a specification requirement that all conductors be run in raceways. They base the bid on MC cable instead. Other bidders substitute commercial or residential grade devices for specification grade devices. I have also seen aluminum conductors substituted for copper. How does an honest contractor compete with this kind of bidding? How can you level the playing field?
For my company, I have started making these kinds of substitutions in my bids. I keep it honest by writing detailed qualifications in our proposals. I also include adders for the specified materials and methods if the customer wants them. I believe (hope?) that this kind of proposal will prompt the GC/Owner to ask if the others contractors are bidding to the plans and specifications.
As usual, I am interested in your opinions, so leave a comment and let me know what you think.