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How to tender for construction work

There are thousands of construction contracts put out to tender in the UK each year. To award a contract, buyers typically use a tender process to evaluate the most suitable company to deliver the work. In the public sector, this is mandatory for most contracts.

Tender process for construction work

The construction industry can cover projects for design, build, infrastructure and ongoing repair and maintenance.

In the UK, public sector buyers are bound by certain regulations when it comes to issuing and awarding contracts. For contracts over a certain threshold, a tender process must be used to evaluate bidders, on both price and quality, to fairly award a contract.

It is commonly thought that the construction industry is a ‘race to the bottom line’ in bidding, as some firms try to bid low and cheap for contracts. Using a tender process aims to avoid this, as a company is evaluated on both price and quality elements; meaning it is not all about who is the cheapest. A ‘tender’ is not just your pricing schedule; it is also a number of quality questions.

Within a construction tender, in the quality element or method statement, the buyer will evaluate bidders on topics such as:

  • Social value
  • Training
  • Health and safety
  • Safe working
  • Track record and experience
  • Supply chain information
  • Innovation

A lot more is considered than just the price, and you must be prepared to submit a strong quality section in your tender submission to be in with a chance to win the contract. It is important to be aware of your competitors, what is new and emerging in your industry and your company’s capabilities.

See more on the tender process here.

A few other variations of the tender process in the construction industry are as follows:

Open tendering – the common tendering process in overall public sector procurement, whereby a contract is advertised to the public and any suitable organisations can submit a bid to be considered. This may be a one- or two-stage process.

Selective tendering – a preselected list of companies may be invited to bid for the project and they may be pre-qualified ahead of this stage.

Negotiated tendering – this is where a select few contractors are invited to submit a price for a project, followed by negotiation. This can be used for specialist works, instances with previous relationships in place or projects with short time frames. Likely to be for private sector works, rather than in public sector.

It is important to identify which process is being used for the construction tender you are interested in bidding for, and ensure that you understand what the process entails.

Documents that you may be required to complete as part of a construction tender:

  • Form of tender
  • Quality method statement (the written narrative section)
  • PAS91 document (as part of the PQQ stage)
  • Tender pricing model
  • Schedules and specification
  • BIM information

Building and construction tenders

The construction industry in the UK is worth over £30 billion. In 2020, amidst a global pandemic, there were still nearly 6,000 contracts awarded in the construction industry, to a value of £2 billion (stats from Tussell UK). The industry covers anything from maintenance and refurbishment, to new-build construction, through to major projects.

Contract awards in the construction industry – Tussell

Buyers in the construction industry include Network Rail, Highways England, Ministry of Defence as well as local councils, housing associations and consortiums such as YORbuild, Scape Group and Procure Partnerships.

As such, there is a huge volume of construction work available to bid for within the public sector.

Although it is likely that some of the larger-scale construction companies hold the particularly large, major contracts in the UK, (due to their size, economies of scale, capabilities, and profit margins), there are still plenty of opportunities for smaller construction firms. Many buying organisations establish national frameworks, to work with a number of construction firms across the UK, delivering a range of services. It is common to see a construction framework split into lots covering different specialisms or work streams, suitable for smaller SMEs or contractors to bid.

See our website for any live construction contract notices.

Bid writing support for a construction tender

Since 2009 we have completed thousands of construction tenders; so much so that a few of our bid writers write solely for this sector.

Examples of the tenders we have completed for our clients in construction are:

  • Fusion 21 Modular Buildings Framework
  • Procure Plus Framework Agreement for Installation and Repair
  • Network Rail Building and Civils Framework
  • Leeds City Council Leeds Building Service Subcontractor Contracts
  • University of Surrey Measured Term Contract for Planned Building Works
  • Sutton Housing Group Construction Framework

We have writers that are NEBOSH qualified and can support your team through all stages of bidding for a construction contract. We specialise in taking your company’s information, processes and procedures, and translating this into a persuasive, high-quality bid submission. We work with national construction clients, through to SMEs and smaller contractors and subcontractors.

Contact us today to discuss how we can support your company.

Call us now to speak to a member of our Bid Team:

0800 612 5563 or direct to mobile: 0773 940 7746

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