Get those Bid Results!
Getting bid results can be a beast and a blessing. It is always good to get as much information you can about the estimated pricing that we are putting out there in the world, but how we use that pricing information could lead to our own self destruction.
The problem with comparing numbers lies in the lack of information behind those numbers. The only thing you do know for certain is how you looked at the job when you bid it.
Everything about the contract drawings and specifications is left to each individual interpretation. None of us get is right all the time. Most of us are forced to make assumptions for items not shown or not clearly identified. There are no rules for any of this except our standard CYA.
It is safe to assume that all the other steel fabricators bidding the job are completely different than the one you are working for. Each steel fabricator has a different mix of personnel with varying degrees of expertise and longevity. Shop sizes and configurations vary. All have a different assortment of equipment. What is unsettling about those facts is that despite all of these differences, prices for steel fabrication often come in pretty close to one another.
The blessing of getting bid results is in the knowing that we are maintaining our own credibility. It is the only way we know for sure that we are accomplishing the task rightly. We give ourselves that little 'attaboy' praise that we can't get anywhere else when our numbers do come in close. A small gratification for the hours spent doing a very tedious, thankless and pressure driven job. That is, after we get over being frustrated at not being the low number.
The beast comes in when we drive ourselves crazy to justify the low number that appears to be at or below our cost. Did we figure too much labor, add too much for the assumed items or just didn't get that screaming low number for the steel detailing? Should we really be spending our time thinking about all of that?
Many an experienced steel estimator will tell you that it is better to spend your time worrying about the next job you are going to bid than to spend any more time wondering why you didn't get the last one. The better you do your job the more likely you will get the right project for your company. And that is what it is really all about.
The Fabricator's Resource - July 2011
This manual is the guide for anyone wanting to know more about steel, steel fabrication and the steel estimating process. There is no other single publication offering a compilation of information of this type for the steel industry today.