Bidding Residential Projects

Bidding Residential Projects

You and your spouse are thinking: “Should I hire an Architect or a Builder to design and run my new house project?”  Good question.  And who should handle the bidding of your residential project?  The short answer is: Hire the Architect.

bidding residential project
One of the residential projects for which Rand Soellner, AIA managed the bidding.

Here’s why:
Bidding residential projects is just one of the many benefits you will receive from your residential architect.  Your architect is trained to design according to your wishes, not what someone else might want to sell you.  The Architect is the only licensed professional on the planet who is trained, educated and licensed to provide you with the best design possible, making sure that you are happy with every square inch of the design for your family.

Also, in this economy, simply handing over your project to any construction company without competitive bidding just doesn’t make sense.  Why would you do that?  You could be losing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars by not having your Architect bid out your project.  Let’s take a look at a real world example:

Recently, we handled the bidding for a client, a nice couple for whom we designed a house in the SE USA.  We design for people all over the Americas and the World.  So, we began by identifying 21 possible apparent licensed contractors who might be qualified to handle the construction of the project.  The budget was tight.  We investigated each possible contractor and discovered that not all of them were licensed in the state of the project.  That disqualified a few.  We checked their references.  We found out about their typical size and complexity of houses they built.  We talked with them and judged their interest in this project.  More were cut from the list, taking it down to about 9.  We had further investigations, in which our clients personally talked with former clients of the contractors and visited some of their built residences.  More still were cut, taking the list down to 6.  Then we had some heart-to-heart discussions and we provided a list of questions for our clients to ask people who had projects built by each of the builders.  We do this because our clients like to hear these things for themselves.

That cut the Long List and Medium List down to our desired Short List of 4.  These 4 builders are the cream of the crop in the area of the project, as far as their qualifications for the size, complexity and desired cost of our project.  It has been our experience that Contractors will bid on projects that Architects are bidding out, especially when they keep the list of invited contractors down to 3 or 4.  That is because the contractors respect that a design professional is managing this process and there is a level of trust.  Also, builders do not appreciate being one of 20 companies providing prices; that is not fair and is not oriented to quality or value, just cheapness, and no one wants to participate in that sort of thing.

An architect understands these nuances and the psychology of contractors and bidding and treats everyone with courtesy and respect and with a complete knowledge of the construction and bidding documents.  The Architect informs the bidders of the procedures, forms to use and when their bids are due to the Architect, who handles all this paperwork (even electronically) so that you don’t have to.  Managing multiple contractors just isn’t within most clients’ capabilities and they can be easily overwhelmed.  The Architect, on the other hand, lives and breathes bidding services and enjoys working with the contractors to arrive at the best price and quality level you can afford.

It is not uncommon for the Architect’s Bidding services to actually pay you back many times over for the total cost of the Architect’s services over the entire project!  This is because the Architect’s bidding services can often result in your obtaining competitive prices that are far lower that if you simply just “gave” the project to a particular builder because you “liked” him.  You may not, by the time the project is done and you have paid him far more in excess than you could have paid a competitively bid contractor, managed by your Architect.

Do yourself a huge favor: hire an architect to design your house and manage your bidding and perform Construction Administration services.  We have seen time and again where unwary homeowners thought they were saving a few thousand dollars by not engaging the Architect to monitor their construction and bidding, and then ended up paying many times that amount (even millions, in some circumstances) to the builder for unmonitored cost overruns.  You are at the mercy of your builder if you do not have a licensed design professional (your architect) in your corner, evaluating what is happening on your project.  We have found that if you start off a project with professionalism, that sets the tone of the job and people behave in a professional manner.

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