A Step-by-Step Guide to Construction Bidding for Subcontractors

Construction Bidding

If you want to make it big in the construction industry, it’s imperative to learn how to bid as a subcontractor. After all, general contractors often rely on the bids of their subcontractors to help them determine how much to charge for their services.

The bidding process as a subcontractor can be complex and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. By following a few simple steps, you can ensure that your bid is accurate and competitive. Here’s a closer look at the stepwise procedure for construction bidding.

Components of the construction tender process

A construction tender process refers to the process whereby contractors are invited to submit sealed bids to execute a construction project.

The owner or developer issues an invitation to bid (ITB) that outlines the scope of work, contract terms, timelines, and other essential project details.

Interested contractors must respond to the ITB with a sealed bid. The bids are then opened and evaluated by the owner or developer, who ultimately elects the contractor they feel is best suited for the job. Click here to know more about how this procurement system works.

There are three main components of the construction tender process:

  1. The pre-tender phase: The project is defined and the ITB is issued
  2. The bid phase: Contractors submit their bids
  3. The post-tender phase: The owner or developer evaluates the bids and awards the contract

Being the subcontractor, your role comes in during the bid phase.

A step-by-step guide to mastering construction bidding

Now that you understand the basic structure of a construction tender, let’s discuss how to bid on a project.

Step 1: Review the ITB carefully

When you’re invited to bid on a project, it’s essential to take some time to review the ITB in its entirety. The document contains vital information that will help you prepare your bid.

Pay close attention to the following details:

  • Scope of work: This section outlines the work that needs to be completed. Be sure you understand every task that’s expected of you.
  • Timelines: The ITB will include timelines for each phase of the project. Only bid if you can realistically meet the deadlines that are set.
  • Contract terms: The contract terms outline the legal agreement between you and the owner or developer. Go through this section thoroughly, since it will have important details. Don’t go through with the bid if you’re uncomfortable with the contract terms.

Step 2: Gather the necessary materials

Once you’ve reviewed the ITB, it’s time to gather the components you’ll need to prepare your bid. This can include:

  • Project plans
  • Drawings
  • Specifications
  • Documentation

Depending on the size and complexity of the project, you may also need to visit the job site. Doing so will give you a better sense of the work you need to complete.

Step 3: Prepare a detailed estimate

A detailed estimate should form the basis of your bid. The estimate includes the labor, materials, equipment, and other expenses associated with the project.

To prepare a detailed estimate, you’ll need to:

  • Calculate the quantity of each material needed
  • Get quotes from suppliers
  • Calculate the number of labor hours required
  • Include a contingency fund to cover unexpected costs

Don’t forget to add a profit margin to your estimate. Remember that you need to make a profit to stay in business.

Step 4: Submit your bid

Once you’ve prepared your bid, it’s time to submit it. Ensure you do so before the deadline is set in the ITB. When submitting your bid, include all the necessary documentation. The owner or developer will want to see your detailed estimate, proof of insurance, and other relevant information. Double-check the estimated costs to ensure you’ve not made any calculation errors.

Step 5: Wait for confirmation

In most cases, the project owner chooses the lowest bidder, but that’s not always the case. The owner might also choose a contractor they’re familiar with, or one with a good reputation.

You may be asked to negotiate the contract if your bid is selected. During the negotiation process, don’t hesitate to ask for what you want. If you’re unhappy with the contract terms, try to negotiate a better deal. Being honest from the get-go can go a long way. 

Remember that the negotiation process is just as necessary as the bid itself. So do your homework and don’t agree with anything you’re uncomfortable with.

Once you’re all set to work on the project, you can use modern workforce planning software to enjoy seamless integrations, real-time labor updates, and next-gen forecasting. 

Tips to secure a construction project through efficient bidding

Many subcontractors lose out on construction projects because their bids are too high, incomplete, or subpar. Here are some tips for mastering the art of construction bidding.

Bid on projects you can win

It’s imperative to properly evaluate the project before submitting a bid. If you’re not confident you can win the contract, it’s probably best to stay away. There’s no shame in passing on a project that’s not a good fit for your company.

Here are five aspects to consider when deciding if you want to bid on a project:

  1. Client: What type of client is it? Private or public?
  2. Funding: How is the project funded?
  3. Location: Where is the project located?
  4. Size: What’s the size of the project?
  5. Scope: What’s the scope of work required?

You should also look at other bidders and whether you stand a chance of winning the contract. For example, if many large companies are bidding on the same project, it might not be worth your time and effort.

Get your ducks in a row

To win a construction bid, you must have all your ducks in a row. That means being organized, efficient, and having all the necessary documentation.

One of the best ways is to use construction bidding software, which makes it easy to keep track of the projects you’re bidding on, the documents you need, and the deadlines you need to meet.


Every time you bid on a project will be a unique experience specific to the project or developer you’re working with. However, following the steps and tips outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to excelling at construction bidding.

If you take the time to understand how the bidding process works, you can avoid some pitfalls that can lead to lost bids. Ultimately, that means more projects and a better reputation.

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