When Gathering Information for A Construction Proposal
You or someone you know has experienced a construction project horror story. A dream project that somewhere along the way turned into a nightmare. A communication disconnect that caused the customer and the contractor to be at odds.
Why is miscommunication in construction so common?
In the first post of this Blueprint for Building A Better Proposal series, I wrote about this communication problem and that a better proposal is the contractor’s responsibility. Contractors don’t start a construction project with the intention of a misunderstanding…so why is it too often the result?
Most people in the construction trades, learned their specific trade, but were never taught how to do a proposal.
In the second post of the series I explained the parts of the proposal system. In the third, I went through the different steps of the process.
In this post we’ll break down STEP 1 – Gathering Information:
The first information you should gather is WHY. Why does the customer want to do this project? Do they need more space, does something need repaired or replaced, are they looking to make it more usable, or is it just because they want to? Knowing the why early helps determine a clear direction going forward.
Unless the customer has a full set of blueprints and specifications, a site visit should be one of the very first parts of this step. Every individual project is as different as the customer is. Without blueprints, specs or seeing the existing location the chances of giving the customer the project they want, is almost impossible.
Information that needs to be gathered:
- Project info (customer name, mailing address, project address if different than mailing, phone number, email address, project overview, any other relevant information that you need)
- Measurements and dimensions, existing and new
- Building materials, existing and new
- Pictures of pertinent areas and existing construction
- Customer’s design ideas and finishes
The important part is to not overlook something.
Use whatever way works best for you to gather the info. Early on I used graph paper and a clip board. I continued to go through different processes before getting where I currently am.
After the graph paper I developed a printed Bid Sheet that had a pre-determined list of the different construction tasks that might be needed. Next to each task there was space for writing down a brief description, dimensions, specific notes, drawings, etc. Having a pre-determined list is a great way to minimize the possibility of forgetting something.
Now I use the same basic Bid Sheet on a Microsoft Surface tablet and can either type, write or draw right on the document. This streamlines the process and reduces the chance of something getting overlooked.
Forgetting to include something in the proposal is a sure way to lose money.
There are over one hundred items listed on the Bid Sheet and it still doesn’t cover every possibility. Construction projects vary a lot. Even small projects can include a lot of different pieces. If you leave one of the pieces out, someone’s going to end up unhappy.
If you start with a list, you’re less likely to overlook something.
Next week we’ll take the information gathered on the Bid Sheet and turn it into a Scope of Work.