Information and communication problems on calls for tenders – Estimate 101, December 2021

November 28, 2021 – Let’s face it: we are quoting and bidding in a tough market that is still affected by Covid. Competition is tighter, material and labor costs increase, and the time between bidding and submission is getting shorter. (Distributors and manufacturers are caught in this pinch and quote prices just before the offer expires.)

All of these things do all the more important to avoid errors in our submissions; however, errors continue to occur, frequently due to poor project information and communication issues.

When we receive a request for quotation, we need to review the whole package. Take note of things that require more information; ask questions and send them back. Look for things like:

• Are the power and lighting circuits correctly labeled?
• Do the fixture specifications match the drawings and are the heights listed?
• Products that you cannot get from your suppliers?
• Does the list of distribution equipment match the information in the plans?
• Are the responsibilities for wiring mechanical equipment clear?
• Incomplete notes in the drawing?
• Addenda noted, but not included?

Here’s an example of how poor project information and communication issues in a recent RFQ forced the electrical contractor to rework the bid until the closing time:

(It should be mentioned that the RFQ came with a short turnaround time, bad project information and the need for additional information, some of which was last minute … it is no wonder that a scope of decent work could not be sent to the general contractor.)

First, the entrepreneur received the wrong design. When he received and reviewed the new drawing and addenda, he noticed that new lighting circuits had been added and the height of the lights had changed. In one area of ​​the drawing, the power was 347 V; on the other side of the junction box, the circuit was labeled 120V.

In the drawing, the T-bar measurements were metric, but the fixture specification showed imperial sizes. This meant that the lighting company had to supply fixtures in metric size… but at what voltage? It was never clarified.

Not only was the estimate a mess, but – adding insult to injury – the wrong devices with the wrong voltage were supplied.

26% of edits are due to poor communication between team members, while 22% are the result of poor project information. * Even during the bidding process, teamwork between the architect, engineers, general, subcontractors, distributors and manufacturers is of crucial importance.

* Littman, Julie. “Survey: Construction Industry Wastes Over $ 200 Billion in Avoidable Mistakes, Rework,” Bisnow.com, August 1, 2018.


John F. Wiesel is the President of Suderman Estimating Systems Inc., and has been estimating and teaching estimating since the early 1980s. Dan Beresford served as an electrician in the Canadian Navy and then held various positions in the electrical sector before joining Suderman.


This feature, along with other interesting content, appears in the December 2021 edition of Electrical Business magazine. Even more back issues can be found in our digital archive.

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