Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™
Pools as an art form - the way it should be!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bidding Ethics - The big question from Pebble Beach, Napa, San Francisco, Marin Pool Designer & Builder Paolo Benedetti

Bidding and Ethics - Just where do you draw the line???

Bidding against other contractors for an opportunity to construct a project is all well and good, if the project's specifications are well defined. This works great for government & public works jobs, because they have a clearly defined set of standards.

Because most pool contractors do not build to the "highest standards of workmanship and detail" the property owner is left to sort through the myriad of differing quotes.

Cost vs Quality
Low cost and quality are opposing forces. You get what you pay for! Enough said.

Comparing Proposals
Circulating a simple "plan layout" of a pool project without specifications or details is asking for trouble. Many contractors do not possess the "skill set" (experience or education) to identify potential problems with a project at this stage.
Bidders are told "bid it like it was presented" "It's a design-build, so go ahead and specify what you'll do differently."
Great, now they want their job specified for free, too!
If all of the pool builders could all see the forest from the trees....

Hidden Costs with "Design-Build"
What this really means to a potential bidder is:
"Bid the project based on the minimal information that was provided. Get the contract with a low bid and minimal everything. Once items begin to be defined, point out what was included and then hit them with the change orders."

So, you offered the project to one of the lower bidders. Once they obtained the soils report, they come to you with a change order. The pool requires special engineering. "Cha-ching."

The engineering says that it has to be built stronger and with special foundations, that were not provided for in their "basic contract." "Cha-ching."

They determine that the surge tank on the vanishing edge pool was designed too small. "Cha-ching."

The plumbing exceedes the minimum sized plumbing and quantity that their "basic contract" allowed. "Cha-ching."

The raised walls that will hold back water will require waterproofing inside and out. "Cha-ching."

Your final selection of finish materials will require additional labor and special installation methods. "Cha-ching."

The walls were build too high to allow for the thick stone that you chose. The walls will have to be chipped down (never mind that they will now be too close to the reinforcing steel). "Cha-ching."

Extra pumps and filters will be required for the vanishing edge, spa jets and water features. "Cha-ching."

The general Contractor on your job isn't really concerned about the cost over-runs. He's making additional margin on every change order. He knew this going into the project.... But you thought that a pools a pool. Right??

So, now you're stuck with an under-qualified pool contractor, because you've already signed their contract - back when the pool was under specified.

Now that the specifications are becoming more clearly defined, they are entitled by law to be paid for these changes. You are stuck with the responsibility of these additional costs. "Cha-ching."

Gee... the lowest bidder wasn't so cheap after all.

Having a well defined and specified set of plans, prior to bidding will save you thousands of dollars in the long run. And suddenly, all of the bids become almost equal.

You should stop and think.... does your "design - build process," really force bidders to bid low, keep their observations of deficiency issues with your plans to themselves, until they have you signed on the dotted line???

Maybe you should ask yourself some difficult questions:

Why are some bids so much higher than the rest?
What do they see that the others do not?
What are they going to do that the others won't?

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa©