Obtaining Contractor Bids – Capital Improvement Project Success Part 4

Successful Capital Improvement Projects - Part 4: Obtaining Contractor Bids

You’ve assembled your team and compiled your bid documents.  As a building manager, you’re well on your way to a successful capital improvement project. Now it’s time to start obtaining contractor bids for the capital improvement project.

The capital improvement bid process is overwhelming. Where do I start?

First, determine the basis for the final decision. Will you choose the lowest bidder? Or will you base your decision on the contractor’s qualifications? Maybe you’ll use a combination of the two, using the best contractor for the price. Knowing this up front will guide the bidding process for you and the contractors.

Next, you need to determine whether the bid process will be open or closed. An open bidding process is typical (and usually required) for public projects. The request for bids must be publicly advertised. Closed bid is used for private projects. In this case, specific contractors are sent requests for bid that include the required documents.

So, if you’re using the closed bid process, where do you find qualified contractors?  Unless you have previous experience with capital project contractors, that can be the biggest hurdle you’ll encounter. You’ll need three to five qualified contractors to make the bidding process effective.

If your project team includes a building engineering firm, you’re in luck. That firm probably has lots of experience with contractors. Chances are their contractor list was built through dozens of projects. That means they know who’s reliable and who’s not. Save yourself headaches and stress and engage the engineering firm to help you find the right contractors. In fact, they can manage the entire bidding process for you. You can move on to your other duties while the bids come in.

The pre-bid meeting

It’s a good idea to hold a pre-bid meeting at the project site. That meeting should include your capital improvement project team and all the contractors who are bidding on the project. This meeting enables the contractors to get a complete understanding of any constraints caused by the site itself. You’ll also get a chance to answer any questions. Doing this makes it more likely that the bids you receive will be accurate the first time.

Collecting and reviewing capital improvement project bids

This is another phase where the engineering firm on your team will be able to lighten your load. The engineers can collect the bids and do a preliminary review. They’ll return any bid that’s incomplete or inaccurate. The contractor may have an opportunity to re-submit, if you and the engineering firm agree.

Evaluating bids

Once all the bids have been collected, you’ll need to review them. This is the point at which you determine who makes it to the next phase of evaluation. Again, an engineering firm can be a big help in this effort. If you followed our earlier advice and pre-determined the basis for your decision, you’ll be ready to go!

Final capital improvement project bid phase

Once you have eliminated any bids that are not qualified, you’ll have a list of finalists. The final assessment includes owners or your association board. They should interview and approve all contractors prior to you awarding the contract. This helps insure buy-in and support during the project. Once you have board/owner recommendations, you can award the project and you’re on your way to a successful capital improvement project!

 

At Engineering Support Services, we specialize in helping building managers through all types of capital projects. We can help build the team, compile the bid package, manage the bidding process, develop the project plan and more.

Come back to our site regularly to follow our series on capital improvement project management. Or follow us on Facebook for updates on our series. In our next post, our professional building engineers will share helpful tips for securing funding.

 

Preparing Capital Improvement Project Documents – Capital Improvement Project Success Part 3

Successful Capital Improvement Projects - Part 3: Preparing Capital Improvement Project Documents

Successful Capital Improvement Projects for Commercial and Multi-Family Residential Buildings

Part 3 – Preparing Capital Improvement Project Documents for Bids

As a building manager, you probably already have a capital improvement plan. When it’s time to start a project, your first step is to assemble a fantastic project team. (Read our blog on project teams for tips and guidance.)  Once your capital improvement project team is complete, it’s time to start the bidding process. The first step in the bidding process: gather the required capital improvement project documents.

How do I know what capital improvement project documents I need?

Your best bet here is to engage the licensed professional engineer or architect on your project team. He or she should have the expertise and experience to make sure you have all the specs and documents bidders will need. Paying a professional to build the bid document packet for you is a worthwhile investment.  Missing documents will mean delays in the bidding process at best. In the worst case, a missing document can cause unforeseen delays and cost overruns.

Basic capital improvement project document list

Most capital project bidders will require the following documents, at a minimum:

  • A formal request for bid that explains the project and general requirements
  • A list of specified project materials
  • A complete description of the scope of work
  • Any requirements for warranties
  • A description of the insurance you require from the contractor
  • Plans, drawings or other diagrams
  • Any building code considerations

You may believe that you and your building engineering team can compile these documents. And you may be right. That said, a professional building engineering firm has experience with all types of projects. With that experience comes the ability to see potential problems and barriers before they occur. A professional engineering firm will also be aware of any building code considerations. Your internal team may not have as in-depth knowledge of local codes that engineering firms have.

At Engineering Support Services, we specialize in helping building managers through all types of capital projects. We can help build the team, compile the bid package including capital improvement project documents, develop the project plan and more.

Come back to our site regularly to follow our series on capital improvement project management. Or follow us on Facebook for updates on our series. In our next post, our professional building engineers will share helpful tips for obtaining capital improvement project bids.

The Capital Improvement Project Team – Capital Improvement Project Success Part 2

Successful Capital Improvement Projects - Part 2: The Capital Improvement Project Team

Successful Capital Improvement Projects for Commercial and Multi-Family Residential Buildings

Part 2 – Building a Team

Capital improvement projects are great – when they’re complete! Everyone loves a roof that doesn’t leak, beautifully-redesigned public areas and brand-new warehouse facilities. It’s getting there that’s the headache for every building manager. In addition to your normal duties, you now have this major project to manage, along with all the struggles it entails. That’s where a strong capital improvement project team can really help. This post is the second in our five-part series that will provide tips on completing capital projects successfully.

Who should be on a successful capital improvement project team?

Building Owner or Association Board

If you manage a commercial property, the building’s owner is going to be a key member of the capital project team. They approve the need for the project and the budget. And, they will benefit from the improved value of their asset once the project is complete.

If you manage a condo property, you have a board that advises you on projects. They help prioritize and residents’ requests and act as a liaison to the residents. Capital expenditure approval is their responsibility.

Beyond approvals, owners and board members can provide valuable insight to a capital improvement project. If they’re bought into the project team, board members can help field resident’s complaints and concerns about the inevitable inconvenience capital projects cause.

Property Manager

As the property manager, you are the most valuable resource to the capital improvement project team. No one understands the building and its quirks better than you and your team. Plus, you are responsible for making sure the building meets tenants’ and residents’ ongoing needs during construction.

In many cases, the property manager acts as project manager on capital improvements. Sometimes, building managers hire third parties as project managers. This is often true on larger projects.

Attorney

Construction law is mostly about contracts. And, those contracts have hundreds of factors to consider. Who will bear the cost of project delays? When is a change order justified? What if an injury occurs on the jobsite – who is responsible? How will you resolve disputes? It’s the team lawyer’s job to help manage some of this risk through smart contracting.

Insurance Agent

Your insurance needs change when you start a capital project. Adding an insurance agent to your project team means he or she will know exactly what’s involved in the project. Good agents will suggest appropriate levels of coverage for the job. They can also help you make sure your contractors have the insurance they need to keep your risk at a minimum.

Licensed Professional Engineer or Architect

As the property manager, you have an intimate understanding of your building. Licensed professional engineering firms will provide an objective point of view, helping you see things that may have faded into the background

Does managing a construction project in addition to your everyday responsibilities seem impossible? That’s where an engineering firm with construction experience can really add value. Your engineering firm may be able to manage some or all the project phases with minimal involvement on your part. Engineering firms like ESS can manage:

Building evaluation
Specification and plan development
Capital improvement project team building
Contractor evaluation and selection
On-site contractor supervision
Overall project management

Contractors

Skilled and honest trades people are the core of any successful capital improvement project team. The bid process, if managed properly, can help ensure you find the best contractors at the most reasonable prices.

By developing a comprehensive and detailed bid package, you’ll ensure contractors can propose accurate time and cost estimates. Detailed bids from contractors can help prevent time and cost overruns.  This is another place where and experienced engineering firm can help. They know the best contractors in the area. They’re able to streamline the process and result, saving you time and money.

Lender

The right lender knows all the options for financing the project. Is the building located in a historic area? Are there grants available for façade improvements in your area? The answers to these and other questions might provide funding options you hadn’t thought of previously.

What happens when the right people aren’t on the team?

Not having the all the right people on your capital improvement project team can derail the entire process. How?

  • Not having the board on the team can result in you addressing the wrong problem. Even if you have the right problem, your board can help manage residents expectations about the outcome.
  • Poorly drafted contracts that haven’t been vetted by an attorney can result in risk to owners for claims, leans and unfinished work.
  • Project management by an engineering firm with construction experience can help prevent cost overruns and delays due to unclear specs or unrealistic plans.
  • A consultative, experienced insurance agent can insure you against unexpected events and claims. Without that coverage, you could be liable for things you never thought would occur.
  • Including your lender in the team means he or she will know exactly what you’re funding and may be able to prevent you from financing more than you need or from under-funding the project.

At Engineering Support Services, we specialize in helping building managers through all types of capital projects. Come soon for our post on preparing project documents. Our experienced capital project engineers will provide the why and how of building a great project foundation with thorough and comprehensive documentation.

Successful Capital Improvement Projects – Part 1

Successful Capital Improvement Projects for Commercial and Multi-Family Residential Buildings

At some point, every building manager realizes there are big-ticket projects that he or she can’t defer. These projects involve repairs and replacements for parts of your building that are not part of normal maintenance. This post is the first in our five-part series that will provide tips on completing capital improvement projects successfully.

Examples of Capital Improvement Projects

  • Roof Replacement
  • Siding and Trim Replacement
  • Balcony Repairs and Replacements
  • Driveway/Parking Lot Resurfacing/Replacement
  • Site Drainage Improvements
  • Interior Remodeling Projects
  • HVAC and MEP Replacements

All these projects require significant effort, funding and commitment. The resources required make strong project management a key part of the project’s success.

How to Identify Capital Improvement Projects

There are several ways in which building managers can identify potential capital improvement projects. If you manage a residential building, it’s likely that your association board is fielding ongoing complaints from homeowners about repairs they think you should make. It’s also likely that you or your staff has found issues during a property walk. Hiring a licensed professional engineer or architect to evaluate an issue will help solidify the need for a capital investment.

Five Steps of Successful Capital Improvement Projects

Successful building managers know that capital improvement projects can go wrong quickly. The five steps below may seem basic, but if they’re not executed properly, you’ll find yourself over-budget with blown deadlines.

The five steps are:

  1. Form a project team
  2. Prepare project documents
  3. Obtain bids
  4. Secure funding
  5. Perform the work

Hiring a professional building engineering firm to partner with you in managing your capital projects can be key to completing the project. The best engineering firms bring real-life construction experience to the job. This experience enables the engineers to predict and prevent delays and cost overruns.

At Engineering Support Services, we specialize in helping building managers through all types of capital projects. Come back next week for our post on forming a capital improvement project team. You’ll learn some tips from the pros that will help you build a strong team – the foundation of capital improvement project success.

Engineering Support Services has  teamed up with  Isagenix Legacy Foundation to feed, clothe and educate as many kids as we can in 2019.

To reach this goal, 3% of each contract will be donated to the foundation in our client's name.