Many construction and home improvement projects are awarded through a bid process. The process begins when a project owner issues a request for proposals (RFP), which contains information on the work to be performed. Contractors use the information contained in the RFP to estimate the cost to perform the specified work. They submit these costs to the owner in the form of a bid proposal, which the owner must then compare to other bids in order to select a contractor.
To make it easier to compare bids, owners can use a document known as a bid sheet. The bid sheet may be a simple sheet of paper or a complex spreadsheet, depending on the scope of the project. It contains a list of all of the tasks required to complete the job. For example, a bid sheet for a small home renovation may include such tasks as demolition, drywall, flooring, lighting and plumbing. It may also include auxiliary items related to building permits, engineering services and other project tasks not directly related to construction.
In the commercial construction industry, bid sheets are often organized according to the MasterFormat system developed by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). The MasterFormat system breaks a project down by trade, then further divides each trade into individual tasks. For example, a single category may include all painting required on the job, and may be broken down with line items that address painting ceilings, walls, doors, furnishings and exterior surfaces. This system not only standardizes the bid review process, but also minimizes mistakes and omissions on a bid sheet.
In many situations, the owner will not finalize the bid sheet until after the majority of bids have been received. This allows the owner to use each bid proposal to look for items he may have missed when considering the scope of the project. For instance, a drywall contractor may include door installation in his price, which could remind the owner that he has left this item off of his bid sheet. By looking for clues on each bid, he or she can ensure that the bid sheet contains a complete scope of work for the project.
After all bids are submitted, the bid sheet should be used as a checklist to help the owner perform an “apples to apples” comparison among the various proposals. If it is unclear whether an item is included, the owner can contact the bidder for confirmation. The bidder may also be asked to adjust his price to include or exclude the item in question. Once the owner has concluded that all the bids are covering the same scope of work, he can easily award a contract to the lowest qualified bidder.