Old 05-09-2012, 11:29 AM
LLC RI's Avatar
LLC RI LLC RI is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Cranston, RI
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Design Bid Quote

Good rainy morning from Rhode Island.

I want to run something by you all and get some input/ feedback.

Last Monday, I was called by an architect at a firm with which I have an over 20 year work relationship with. I was asked to come the next day to a luxury, urban apartment/retail complex and meet to go over a lighting project.

I was told there would be others in attendance who would also be bidding on this project. At the meeting, there was one other contractor, who I know from the area, who uses one brand of lighting and from what I've seen of his jobs, they are all pretty much cookie cutter ( and he uses Quick Discs for his connections).

We walked the project with the architects and owners and had a sit down to discuss what they wanted and that they wanted it done a week after you were awarded the job, which I found to be an overly ambitious expectation.

Nonetheless, I took the plans home, and designed the project with brass and copper fixtures, citing that the aluminum had the potential to corrode from the lawn chemicals and road salt used in the area.

I also specified most fixtures with drop in LED's as they could be replaced down the line with the later technology of LED lamps. I came up with some unique solutions to some of their issues and presented a comprehensive 8 page design proposal within which, I mentioned that there could be cost reductions to opt for aluminum fixtures and also to revert to standard lamps.

They were supposed to get back to us on Monday afternoon, which was especially critical due to the fast track of this project. Having heard nothing, I emailed yesterday morning with a request to hear something.

This morning, I got an email thanking me for participating and letting me know that they chose a contractor who's price more closely matched their budget.

I wrote back, thanking them for the opportunity and making a statement as to in retrospect, I should have focused on price instead of quality, efficiency and sustainability.

Yeah, I know.. it was a little sour grapes, but I spent several hours doing that work, I went back at night to evaluate the site, gave them a comprehensive analysis of their existing lighting- ie- mismatched colors in their cfl fixtures, a mix of sodium and metal halide on their signs etc. I would have expected to be called in for a discussion on cost savings or any other modifications which would have brought my price down. Instead, I heard nothing until 2 days AFTER they said we would hear by.

I have the feeling I was used as a SHILL.

1. Has anything like this happened to any of you?
2. Have you been call in to competitively bid on a project where YOU are creating your own design for? ( ie.. not bidding apples for apples)

3. How do you protect your ideas in a case like this.? This is one of the aspects of my 24 plus years doing this is the need to come up with the great ideas for someone's lighting, but, that they don't end up educating my competition.

4. I am thinking that in the future, I want to charge a design fee in a situation like this. Has anyone ever done that successfully? How? On one hand, you'd think that if a client was serious, they would pony up a few bucks for your time and the design, yet on the other, why pay me, when the others are design/bidding for free?

Thanks for your insights to this posting..... your feedback is appreciated.

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Old 05-09-2012, 12:55 PM
Richie@ Richie@ is offline
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Virginia Beach , Va
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The same thing happen to me on a large Commercial Electrical job many years ago , I to took 7-10 days on design and dumb a-- me gives them copies of my Electrical design to the Builder then he makes copies an gave them out to 3 other contractors , needless to say I did not get that job an did not ever bid a job with him again and also have never given any type of design - Electrical or Lighting out since.

You thought you were doing the right thing by bringing those issues up to your architect and you were if you knew you were the only bid , but if you had bid it as what they wanted you could have made out pretty well on change orders because that's what happens quite often.

Sorry you lost that job , live and learn as they say.
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:55 PM
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starry night starry night is offline
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Location: Ohio's North Coast
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Originally Posted by LLC RI View Post

1. Has anything like this happened to any of you?
2. Have you been call in to competitively bid on a project where YOU are creating your own design for? ( ie.. not bidding apples for apples)

Earlier in my landscaping career, I created designs when I was supposed
to be bidding a project. Later, I realized I was just "bidding against myself."
So, for at least 15 years, I have refused to participate in "bidding" unless there were specifications.

Now, having put the landscaping behind me and devoting my efforts in landscape lighting, already I have broken my own rule. I had an opportunity to give a proposal for an entrance to an HOA (an elaborately landscaped area.) Yep, so what did I do? Gave them a design.
But, I believed I needed to do it to get started.

I can't blame you, George. You probably figured that an extensive proposal with everything explained would impress the judges. I would have thought the same thing.
Phil Bauer
Starry Night Lighting


"Always look on the bright side of life."
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:28 PM
INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting is offline
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Location: Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 4,107
Hi George. Technically you were not bidding on that job as you were not supplied with a specification to work with. You were certainly in a competition and unfortunately were not selected, probably because the client was more focused on cost than value, longevity and creativity.

The next time you are asked to participate in a similar competition you might want to let the client and architect know that your consultation, design and specifications are not free. Let them know that there will be a charge for your effort and have them agree to it before you begin. If they are hesitant to pay the fee, then you are already ahead of the game as they have just indicated they are more focused on cost than value. You can then proceed to develop a low cost proposal or choose to walk away and move onto more profitable work.

No matter what, don't make the mistake of leaving behind your designs, specifications or project details until you have been awarded the contract or recompensed for your time and effort. Have you ever seen an Architect leave behind his plans while he waits for the client to decide if he will be hired or not?
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Old 05-10-2012, 02:07 AM
David Gretzmier David Gretzmier is offline
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Location: Fayetteville,AR
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I have yet to find any folks I have bid who think a charge for that service is fair. I also rarely win bids from architects, who I have found are almost universally focused on what the fixture looks like.

I have also met with tons of folks who ask for a bid, you explain what you would do without a formal drawn design, and they just have someone else mimic your design.

I rarely win bid competitions.

Our jobs come from folks who want the best effects on their home and are willing to pay for it.
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