How a quantity surveyor makes the tender process easy

You’ve got a design for your new home or commercial property and you’re ready to select the builder or construction company who will turn those plans into a completed structure. Tendering your project is one way to choose your building professional.

The tender process invites prospective specialists to submit an offer for the supply of the necessary materials, labour and other services needed to construct your building. It’s a process which can be time consuming and, frankly, has some tricky bits if you’re not familiar with it. That’s why it can be a good — actually, a fantastic — idea to ask a quantity surveyor (QS) to help. Here’s all the things they can do to make the tender process easy.

1. Review

In the first instance, your QS can review the consented documents to make sure the designer hasn’t missed anything important before the cost of construction is calculated. In fact, the earlier you involve a quantity surveyor in the design process, the better, because they can advise on various cost options of the intended design. Completing a design and then realising you can’t afford to build it is a very unpleasant feeling.

2. Assessment of Plans

When your QS has a background in construction (like we do) they can assess that the design is actually feasible to build. We’ve worked with one client who had a fantastic bespoke home drawn up, only to find once building began that the engineering for the roof wasn’t strong enough to support itself. He came to us for the double-check certainty that no other errors had snuck through.

3. Assessment of Builders

You’ll have heard horror stories of people who start a construction project only to get mucked around by the builder. Nobody wants that headache and heartache. Because a quantity surveyor is involved daily in the construction industry, they know which builders are best for each kind of project. They can advise on which companies are trustworthy, known for their workmanship, and are in business for the long term. Your QS can help you pick (at least) three builders you’d like to invite to tender. After all, a successful bid isn’t just about being cheapest: level of experience, reliability, references and past projects are also key factors.

4. Set the Terms

There are obligations and duties within the tendering process, including considering all compliant bids, acting fairly and in good faith, rejecting non-compliant bids, evaluating bids using the correct criteria, and not using the tender process to negotiate for better prices with a bidder. A QS is familiar with all the components of setting the terms for your tender process.

5. Supply the Contract

For any building work that costs more than $30,000 you must have a written contract. It’s recommended for smaller jobs, too. But which kind of build contract should you use? Full contract, labour-only contract, or managed labour-only contract? Your quantity surveyor can advise which contract style is best suited to your project and help prepare it.

6. Assess the Bids

If you’ve supplied all the tendering builders the exact same drawings, specifications and site information, you would think that each bid would be similar, right? Frequently, they’re not, and your quantity surveyor is an expert in figuring out why. They analyse each bid against each other, helping you make a final decision after comparing apples with apples. As part of this process, a QS also checks for tags or omissions (where the tendering builder has questions about the build or intentionally left out a part of the construction they aren’t able to complete) which avoids surprises or added costs in the months ahead.

7. Check the Disclosure

As part of the tendering process, the bidders state any guarantees or warranties they offer, along with the business insurance cover they have in place. Your quantity surveyor can help determine whether these details are sufficient for your project.

8. Plan the Payments

Before you accept one of the bids and construction starts, you need to know how much the builder is to be paid, and when. So, before you sign the paperwork, it’s a good idea to have a detailed payment plan arranged, one that aligns with your lending criteria. Because when everyone involved with the build knows the money plan, a project is likely to progress smoothly. A QS is experienced in calculating a sensible and fair payment programme.

Could you manage all eight of tendering steps yourself? Possibly. But if you don’t have the time, experience, or inclination to do so, engaging a quantity surveyor is a sensible idea. And you might be surprised by how affordable their expertise is — it’s an investment in your construction project’s peace of mind.

James Cameron is a professional quantity surveyor, licensed building practitioner (carpentry, Site 3) and director of Property Values Ltd.

021 288 1311

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