Construction File:

Procuring Trade Contractors Bids

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the positive amount of construction on the books and being planned for British Columbia over the next few years. One area of concern that we hear from many stakeholders in the industry is where we are going to find the trade contractors with people to build our facilities and infrastructure. With that in mind there are many positive programs such as those that are being undertaken to attract young people, minorities or immigrants to the industry. Attracting workers to the industry is one part of the puzzle. But making the industry an attractive place to work is another part of the puzzle.

There is likely no other industry that is more complex and competitive than the Construction Industry. On the design professional side of the industry, through such organizations as AIBC, APEGBC, ASTTBC and CEBC, they do an admirable job of setting and maintaining standards for the design professionals in our industry. This is part of the appeal for individuals choosing careers as architects, engineers or technicians. These organizations have the benefit of being able to by law, mandate their standards. One of the objectives of the Construction Associations is to make the industry less complex and an appealing way to earn a living. Much has been done with the creation of standard documents and guidelines that are available to everyone whether they are members or not. What we believe can help to make the industry more appealing is to implement these standards with few conditions. Implementation of the standards will make projects attractive to bidders; it will foster the well being of companies to make them profitable and attractive places to work. There is likely nothing more rewarding to an employee than the potential for long term employment with a commercially successful company.

Yes, and what does this have to do with attracting Trade Contractor Bidders?

One of the standards that is highly under utilized in this industry is Bid Depository. And yes, we have heard the entire negative spin on Bid Depository that some think it costs more money; it limits the competition and so on. In our opinion this is all double-talk mostly created by those who don’t support any standards in the industry; they create their own contracts or hide behind standards with multiple conditions. Ironically some of them are responsible for educating and training the people that contractors employ. Bid Depository is a standard that was created mostly by the Trade Contractors and supported by every Construction Association in BC. It is like any standard that these Construction Associations have created such as those for industry training, safety and application standards for such things as masonry, steel, roofing, metal stud and drywall, flooring, painting, mechanical, electrical, to mention only a few. Bid Depository is an industry standard that deserves support.

What is it that attracts Trade Contractors to a project? Firstly, it is that they will be treated fairly in the bidding process, with some assurance that the process is fair, open and transparent … will they, if they give their best price, be awarded the project? Secondly, if they are successful will they have a fair contract that will ensure a balance of the risk between them and the General Contractor and/or the Owner? And finally, will they be working in an environment that is harmonious and conducive to profitability?

Bid Depository is the only method that allows them to know if they have been treated fairly in the bidding process. Bid Depository specifies the use of a standard industry contract, which sets out a fair and balanced allocation of the risk and, can only be modified with their consent. Bid Depository helps ensure profitability and with that comes more of a co-operative working environment where they are less likely to cut corners.

The use of Bid Depository in the Stipulated Sum bidding process is well known, however, it is also a valuable tool to use in alternative procurement methods such as Construction Management. Bid Depository can make the CM’s job easier by defining the scope of work allowing for bidding contractors to bid to the same set of rules, including bonding if required. Some CM’s are finding that some contractors submit their bid price on their own bid form, which may have other inclusions or exclusions from the original intent of the bid documents. Using Bid Depository will make the job of bid comparison much easier and transparent. This transparency will demonstrate to the trade contractors a CM’s commitment to fairness and will attract them to bidding the project.

Bid Depository is an industry standard. It is standards that help foster the well being of companies to make them profitable and attractive places to work. Do your part to help attract people to the industry by using Bid Depository on your projects. To assist you with setting up your project documents the BCCA Bid Depository is available to offer you whatever assistance you need by contacting the Provincial Administrator at 1-800-699-9011 or locally in Victoria at 475-1077.