Last edited 20 Mar 2014

Purpose of Tendering and Procedures


[edit] Legal obligations

[edit] The parties’ obligations

  • The employer’s request for tenders is an invitation to treat and therefore the employer is under no legal obligation to accept any tender.
  • The cost of tendering is generally borne by the contractor.
  • Where the preliminary work goes beyond what is normally expected, an employer may agree to make payment.
  • A person who invites another to tender with no intention whatsoever of accepting that tender will be liable for any expenses that the latter incurs.
  • An employer who expressly promises to accept the lowest tender will be bound by that promise, if that tender complies with any conditions.
  • An employer may be under an implied obligation to give proper consideration to any tender submitted in accordance with published conditions.
  • Local authorities are required by the Local Government Act 1972 to publicise formal contracting procedures, normally involving competitive tendering.
  • Local authorities are required to give reasons for their procurement decisions and are generally prohibited from taking into account non-commercial considerations in reaching those decisions.

[edit] European Union control on procurement in the public sector

  • European Treaty (which applies to all public sector contracts): prohibits discrimination within the European Union on grounds of nationality and restrictions on the free movement of goods or services.
  • A complex array of European Union Directives lay down rules governing the procedures for the awarding of contracts by any public body where the contract value is greater than specified values. See OJEU for more information.

[edit] Open tendering

  • Traditional method
  • Advert placed and interest contractors can apply for documentation
  • Advert or documentation will state that the employer is not bound to accept the lowest tender, or indeed any tender
  • It is an indiscriminate request for tenders, and there is no method of ensuring high quality building
  • Preparation places unnecessary burden of time, effort and expense on industry
  • Its use has been declining in the UK, but because of the effect of certain European Union legislation, its use in the public sector is increasing

[edit] Single stage selective tendering

[edit] Selection of contractors

  • A short list of suitable tenderers should be drawn up either from the employer’s approved list of contractors or from an adhoc list
  • The number of tenderers invited should be a maximum of six
  • One or two further names should be added to replace any firms that do not accept the preliminary invitation
  • Points to be considered:
  1. The firm’s financial standing and record
  2. The firm’s recent experience of building at the required rate of completion
  3. The firm’s general experience and reputation in this area
  4. The firm’s competence and resources in respect of statutory health and safety requirements
  5. The firm’s approach to quality assurance procedures
  6. Whether the management structure of the firm is adequate for this type of contract
  7. Whether the firm will have adequate capacity at the relevant time
  • This can be achieved by means of the NJCC Standards Forms of Tendering Questionnaire
  • Lists should be periodically reviewed to exclude firms whose performance has been unsatisfactory and to allow the introduction of suitable additional firms

[edit] Preliminary enquiry

  • In order that the contractors may be able to decide whether they will tender and to anticipate the demands on their tendering staff, each firm should be sent an should reply to a preliminary enquiry for invitation to tender
  • It should include the following information:
  • Project name
  1. Type and function of building
  2. General description of the project
  3. Employer’s name
  4. Employer’s professional team
  5. Location of site
  6. Approximate cost range
  7. Number of tenderers it is proposed to invite
  8. Nominated sub-contractors for major items
  9. Form of contract and any proposed amendments
  10. Examination and correction of bill (Alternative 1 or Alternative 2)
  11. Anticipated date of possession
  12. Period for completion of works
  13. Approximate date for despatch of tender documents
  14. Tender period
  15. Details of guarantee requirements
  16. Particular conditions applying to the contract

[edit] Interview

  • After the responses to the preliminary enquiry letter have been received, each contractor suitable should be interviewed in order to:
  • Determine that the forms of construction to be used will in general be suitable
  • Discuss and establish the organisation of the work and the time required for tendering
  • Discuss and establish (if required) the nature and extent of the design indemnity insurance to be taken out by the contractor
  • Provide ay further information required by the contractor
  • Make a final judgement on the competence of each firm’s competence

[edit] Sending out documents

  1. Checklist of drawings and documents
  2. Specification
  3. Tender form and instructions for their completion
  4. Complete sets of drawings
  5. Or the bills of quantities with a selection of drawings
  6. Pre-tender health and safety plan
  7. Proposed programme dates
  8. Specific contract terms and conditions
  9. Details of and bond and/or guarantees required
  10. Covering letter
  • The covering letter should state:
  1. Invitation to tender (if not already sent)
  2. List on enclosures
  3. Date and place for delivery of tenders
  4. Whether the site is open for inspection and if so what arrangements should be made to visit
  5. Request for acknowledgement
  • Also enclosed should be an envelop for the delivery of the tender already addressed and marked ‘tender for…’ on the face

Time for tendering

  • As long as possible
  • Determined in relation to the size and complexity of the job
  • Four weeks should be regarded as the minimum time for tender
  • Contractors tendering on a specification and drawings will need longer than when bills are supplied

The formulation of bids

  1. take account of the way in which the costs are incurred (brickwork on second floor is cheaper than brickwork on seventeenth floor)
  2. necessarily mean that the actual rates are the same as those in the in the bills
  1. If the project is at the end of a tax year, he may reduce the rates at the beginning of a project and increase then at the end – back loading
  2. Or the contractor may wish to get cash quickly to meet liabilities and will therefore inflate the rates at the beginning – front loading
  • Illustrates the danger of using bill rates to value variations

[edit] Withdrawal of tender

[edit] Opening of tenders

  1. When returned the marked envelopes will be left unopened until the time stated for delivery has passed and a check has been made that all have been delivered – if this procedure is not observed, the architect may be liable for the tenderer’s abortive expenditure
  2. Bills should be returned in separate envelopes and only the bill accompanying the lowest tender will be opened – the others are returned
  3. A list is prepared for the client in order of price, and the contract period may also be entered against the contractor’s name if this has been requested from the contractor
  4. As soon as any tender is accepted, all tendering contractors must be notified
  5. While confidentiality is important, contractors will want to know the result – therefore the architect publishes the list of tender prices without the names attached

[edit] Examination of a priced bill

  • The QS will make a mathematical check and generally look through the rates for any possible serious errors or omissions in the pricing
  • If there are none, the tender can be recommended for acceptance
  • If mistakes are found, the architect, employer and contractor must be notified
  • Under Alternative 1:
  1. The contractor will either be invited to stand by the tender price or to withdraw
  2. If he withdraws, the next lowest bid is considered
  3. If he stands by the tender, an endorsement should be added to the priced bills indicating that all rates and prices inserted therein by the tenderer are to be considered as reduced or increased in the same proportion as the correct total or priced items exceeds or falls short of such items
  • Under Alternative 2:
  1. The contractor should be given the opportunity of confirming his offer or amending it to correct genuine errors
  2. Should he elect to amend his offer and the revised offer is no longer the lower, the offer of the firm now lowest in the competition should be examined
  3. If the tenderer elects not to amend his offer, an endorsement will be required as above

[edit] Negotiated reduction of tender

[edit] Preparing contract documents

  • Completing the articles or agreement is left to the architect or QS
  • All documents should be marked for identification and signed by both parties

[edit] Two stage selective tendering (negotiated tendering)

  • To separate the process involved with selection from the process for determining the pricing mechanisms
  • Not to involve the contractor with responsibility for design, but to get the contractor involved in an advisory capacity before the scheme has been fully designed

[edit] First stage

  • The process for the selection of the contractor and for the establishment of a level of pricing for subsequent negotiation
  • Competitive selection takes place based on minimum amount of information needed to:
  1. Provide a competitive basis for selection
  2. Establish principles of layout and design
  3. Provide unambiguous pricing documents related to preliminary design and specification information in forms sufficiently flexible for a basis for pricing the second stage tender
  4. Define obligation, conditions of, and programme for second stage procedures
  5. State the conditions of contract
  • When the first stage procedure has been completed and a contracted selected for the second stage, no contract for the execution of the work will have been entered into
  • The costs incurred in preparing and submitting the first stage will be borne by the tenderers
  • Tenderers should not be required to submit a response to the health and safety plan with their first stage tenders: the tenderer whose bid is most favourable should be required to submit its response as soon as possible

[edit] Second stage

  • The process of finalisation by the employer’s professional team in collaboration with the selected contractor of the design and development of production drawings and the health and safety plan for the whole project and the preparation of bills of quantities for the works proceed on the basis of the first stage tender
  • The result is an acceptable sum for inclusion in a contract, and completed contract documentation is prepared in conjunction with the contractor
  • If the parties fail to proceed beyond the second stage, procedures, established during the first stage, will need to include equitable arrangements for reimbursement of the contractor’s participation in the second stage
  • Used for complex projects

[edit] Selective tendering for design and build

  • The terms of any consultant switch should be communicated to the tenderers in the preliminary enquiry
  • In order to limit unnecessary work by tenderers, the employer should include in his requirements all information about the site and building that is in his possession


[edit] Selection of tenderers

  • Preliminary list should comprise six to eight contractors
  • Final list should (in additional to criteria outlined above) take into account:
  1. Whether the firm has had recent experience of designing and constructing to type of building envisaged by the Employer’s Requirements
  2. Whether the firm’s customary design capability is in-house and if not, what method will be used
  • Final list should limited to no more than three firms, due to the high costs involved in in preparing tenders for work with contractor’s design involvement
  • If two stage tendering is used, the list may be increased to no more than five firms with either one or two going through to the second stage

[edit] Employer’s Requirements

  1. Appearance
  2. Functional requirements
  3. Capital cost
  4. Expected lifespan of the building
  5. Flexibility of use
  6. Quality
  7. Running and maintenance costs
  8. Time of construction
  9. Any other factors

[edit] Cost of tendering

  • Where substantial high quality design work is required or excessive competition is introduced, it may be in the employer’s interests to offer payment fro the preparation of unsuccessful competitive tenders

[edit] Single stage or two stage?

[edit] Extent of information

[edit] Tender period

[edit] Assessment

  • The evaluation should be carried out in accordance with the criteria specified in the preliminary enquiry
  • The best tender, which may not be the lowest, should be accepted

[edit] Two stage tendering

[edit] Negotiation

[edit] Joint ventures

  • For projects that are so complex that the distribution of liability becomes a problem
  • Involves all parties taking on joint and several liability for the design and/or execution of the project
  • The agreements must be carefully examined and backed up by bonds or guarantees

[edit] Points to consider when preparing a Tender enquiry questionnaire to be sent to various contractors

Tender enquiry questionnaire

[edit] Points to consider when preparing an agenda and objectives for a structured interview to establish a shortlist of contractors who will be invited to tender.

Agenda for interview

  • The information in the questionnaire
  • Location of project
  • Nature of site/ existing buildings
  • Restrictions over site
  • The firm’s general approach to the site conditions
  • Description of the required retail development including cost
  • Experience of the firm in large retail developments
  • Discussion as to the type of contract and method of procurement that will be used
  • Experience of the firm with this type contract and procurement method
  • Whether there will be any contractor’s design
  • Health and safety records and initial plan for the project
  • Resource available for the project
  • Initial thoughts as to programme and phasing
  • Procedure to be adopted for the examination and correction of any errors in the tender
  • Approximate date for despatch of tender documents and tender period
  • Any additional questions that the firm may have


  • To establish whether the firm has the requisite skill and experience for this type of development
  • To judge their competence
  • To ascertain whether they have the adequate resources necessary to carry out the project
  • To meet the firm face to face
  • To give the firm an opportunity to ask any questions about the project, client and design team

List of attendees

Bonds and/or parent company guarantees are commonly used to protect the financial interests of the employer.

What are bonds?

What are parent company guarantees?

In what ways do they provide security?

How are the requirements for these included in the tender documents?