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Tendering 101


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I was talking to someone last night about going to tender for my new build. I'll be appointing a main contractor. When I meet the Architect next month to discuss the tender specification I'm trying to get my head around how I get from a line item in the specification to the exact product I want. Take doors for example:

I know exactly the type of oak veneer door I would like to get, plus handles, lock etc and good quality hinges. Now I could get the ironmongery myself or just price these from a supplier and quote a budget of say 150-200 per door to cover things. Then on the day after the contracts are signed point the builder at the supplier and off they go. If I start buying some items myself it means the builder will have to bump up his margins on other items to make up for that loss. Against this I need to be sure if I leave them up to the builder, he gets exactly what I'm after. Do I let them supply the door and I'll supply ironmongery or get a catalogue from a local building supplier and find everything I need there? I'm just after a specific end result. As long as I've my budget set right which is half that battle, who is the best person to procure? If I find a better deal online would they buy it there? 


Second - how much do I take on vs leave to the builder? Do I get for a quote to finish everything but then negotiate I'll do X & Y afterwards but that affects the builders margins? It also places me on the critical path if I'm slow getting the kitchen installed, MVHR, flooring etc? I don't want to take on too much stress or hold up the builder costing them money in the process. 



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I am no expert but you might find this podcast interesting. Ruth Butler, the owner of the building but also an architect herself, discusses her contracting approach, which was to allow the contractor are margin but not give him any flexibility to choose items. You could possibly use her approach.


By the way, I have visited her finished home in Sussex. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.



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What I normally do

is ask for a drawing 

Itemise everything labour materials 

and try to keep everything standard That way it is easy to work out if a £100 door has been price for and your other half likes the ones that are £150 Labours very often the same 

Same goes with concrete muck away Agree a rate 


Its also worth agreeing with the builder that if your not supplying materials that you will stand any price rises 

If not he will whack a chunk of money on top Just in case

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Quickest way with getting a price and agreement on margin (and what you want) is cost plus. 


Agree a margin with the builder that all materials will be open book invoice plus x% and you stand the x%. 


If you want a Wickes door at £50, the cost plus rate of 7.5% means you pay £53.50 for the door. That covers his cost to purchase and collect etc and you get what you want. 


If 7.5% sounds a lot, bear in mind how much you will pay in interest etc on unrecovered VAT and so on, and then decide if you want to do it yourself - the downside is if you stop him working as materials aren’t available then you still pay ... it also gets you access to his discounts but at least he knows what margin he is making on that element. 

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+1 on cost + but remember that there is a labour element so getting what you want might not come out as you wanted

 EG a three hinge door costs more to fit than a two hinge door. If you are absolutely sure you know what you want everywhere you can ask them to itemise the labour, en block, EG hanging doors as specified elsewhere sort of thing. Peter makes a good point though about even getting a price and quickly. 

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