help with large scale bid

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by NC_Irrigator, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. NC_Irrigator

    NC_Irrigator LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Messages: 1,445

    anybody ever bid on a target or large scale shopping center? my hometown is getting one now, ive been asked to bid, my supplier did the design and the materal take off list.
    Target was over $9k for materials not inc tax. 21 zones & 2" main

    The rest of the shopping center was over $57k w/o tax. 84 zones 2.5" main (3) 1.5" RPZ's

    All PVC, no poly.

    Im not worried about locals bidding on it my supplier told me the only person that has inquired about it is someone out of charlotte. 3.5 hrs away! Im sure someone will bid out of raleigh though, 30 min away.

    Can anyone give your input on pricing? or a ballpark i should be in.
  2. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself before you jump off into unknown territory.

    1. Do you have the manpower to staff this project (either the Target or the whole shopping center) and still have the people to keep the rest of your business going forward? You can't afford to let the rest of the work stop because this project will end and the business needs to go on.

    2. Do you have the expertise to tackle a project this size? Are you used to working with large pipe and valves? Is your installation crew capable of performing in a timely, efficient manner? It's one thing to put in a large residential system where you are in control from start to finish. On a commercial project, you will have to work in the areas where there are other trades working, or the areas may not be ready for you and you have to move to another part of the project and come back to that area. You don't get to call the shots on a commercial project of any size. At best the irrigation installation is a nuisance to the GC and the other trades and they may well treat you as such.

    3. Are you able to get the equipment needed to do the job and have someone that is able to run it? Is there going to be any need for a rocksaw? Jack hammers? Backhoes? These need to be taken into consideration when estimating the project.

    4. Are you able to fund this project, including, materials, equipment rental, and payroll for 60 to 90 days or longer? Most sizable commercial projects don't just give you a down payment to start like a residential system, and they damn sure don't hand you a check on the day the project is done. Also, are you required to have a performance bond? What are the liquidated damages, and what constitutes reasonable delay or what about responsibility beyond your control? And don't forget about retainage, and payment submittal. Funny how RFPs are due two or three days before the scheduled payment for the last RFP. And then if you had made a mistake or they disputed the RFP, you get to resubmit at the next one, and now you're 90-120 days out on your money, and the GC is doing everything by the letter of the contract. They just don't necessarily tell you in advance. All part of doing commercial work.

    5. Make sure you understand about work-change orders. You can lose your butt if you don't. If it isn't in the original specs, then it doesn't get done without a WCO, otherwise you don't get paid. And you can make some good money on WCOs if they forgot something that needs to be there. Like a couple of sleeves that were to be installed by the GC. Without them you can't water the main feature. Guess what - They are at your mercy on that one. And make damn sure you understand what happens if you mess up another trade's work. If you break a sidewalk, or knock over a couple of supports for awnings, etc. do you have the insurance to cover this?

    I'm not trying to discourage you from doing commercial work, but it sounds as though this might be the first sizable project, and might be beyond the scope of your company. And 3.5 hrs away for a large commercial project is not that far. If the project was sizable and profitable enough, we would rent an apartment or two on a short-term lease for the duration and put our people there on per diem.

    Just make sure you understand the entire contract before you submit and commit.

    Jerry R

    ps: Without seeing the specs and the design, you are probably near $35K for the Target and somewhere around $200K for the rest of the shopping center, with a NET profit of 10-11%. These are not hard and fast figures and I wouldn't recommend using them as a basis for your bid under any circumstances.
  3. NC_Irrigator

    NC_Irrigator LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Messages: 1,445

    Your right jerry, theres alot at stake doing huge jobs. Things can go wrong, i like people that look at every angle and really sit down and think about things before jumping into them.

    To answer some of your questions:
    I feel pretty comfortable about my manpower. Im sure it would be streched out pretty far to keep all my regular work up to speed, but how else do businesses grow? Ive been doing this for 13yrs. (since i was 14yrs old)
    I know what to do and expect. Ive installed 100's and serviced even more. (residential and light commercial ie dr's offices etc)
    Our dirt here is mostly sand & loam.
    And yes this would be my 1st sizable project-
  4. King City Lawns

    King City Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    My old forman worked for a company that did a complete Target Center. The biggest problem I see they ran into was, it turned into a union job. He was a formna and was not allowed to run a plow. he would have to get a machine operator over to make the run. Entire job took like 10 months and cost somwhere around $220,000.

  5. NC_Irrigator

    NC_Irrigator LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Messages: 1,445

    shawn we dont plow at all around here, everything trenched in
  6. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    Just wanted you to be aware of a a few differences in a commercial project where there are many trades all trying to beat a deadline, and a residential or a Dr's Office. It gets frustrating as hell to have a trench dug along the building, and the Mechanical contractor runs a Hi-lift along the building setting A/C units and caves in about 50' of trench. You might get him to clean it out, but good luck. And running to the Job Boss doesn't do any good. He'll tell you work it out.

    Don't be hesitant about hiring some temporary help to do some of the grunt work if the project gets tight. And the comment about the rocksaw, backhoe, and even Shawn's plow were not so much about a specific peice of equipment but rather being aware of the fact that they may not let you use your foreman to run a trencher, or they may require you to pay your foreman a preset wage which may be higher than what you pay now. And you may not be able to connect the water to the tap or they may require that you hire a plumber to set the RPZ's, and you probably won't be able to hook the controller to electricity without an electrician. Just some things that you should look for in the specifications and bid package.

    It is good for companies to grow, but with growth comes growing pains. Just be prepared for them. If you have one good crew of 4 or 5 guys, is that going to be enough? What about those guys that you might hire to help out? Are they gone when the project is over? That might determine what caliber of hand you are able to hire.

    As I said, I am not trying to discourage you in commercial work, but wanting you to be aware.

    Anyway, Good Luck and keep us posted,

  7. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,209

    Ahhhhhhhhh....... good ole commercial jobs. Loved and hated em.
    Some other things to consider:
    Rent a portable storage unit to keep equipment and supplies from walking off
    Is there a place on site they will allow you to keep one? Many other contractors will probably have one as well.
    We had guys trench through conduit for the street lights that we had no clue were there. Not sure if we paid for that or not, it was when I worked for someone else.
    They might be calling you back multiple times for punch list stuff near the end
    We usually had to rent a "jumping jack" tamper to compact the trenches, and on some they would do a core sample to see if it was compacted enough
    Make sure the right materials get ordered - you don't want Class 200 PVC to show up when it should have been Sch. 40.
    They may have mandatory safety meetings for all contractors to attend, and all employees. This can stall your efficiency some times.
    I worked for a company that trenched for all the mainline without it being on site. Pipe was 6", trench was 4"-5". You get the picture.
    Don't trench much more than you will work on in 1-2 days. Either OSHA will jump you for having open trenches, or rain will cave them in or make a muddy mess.
    Get a riding trencher with a blade on the front to help backfill
    The architechs or engineers may have a clause in their prints stating some thing like they are not responsible for things like gallons per minute not meeting what they designed it at. Oh yeah, I loved that one.
    Keep up on getting the sleeves installed in the right places
    Make sure ONE person builds the manifolds so that they are done the same and done right. Then you also know who to blame for forgetting thread tape.
    Don't spill glue or primer on new sidewalks :rolleyes:

    I'll think of more
  8. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    Ah, commercial jobs can be a big mess. We tend to avoid them, but we did a very large assisted living complex this year.

    One of the major things you need to worry about is communicating with the general contractor of the job. If you don't, you'll find your freshly buried pipe getting dug up left and right, sleeves not being put in, and asphalt going where you thought grass was.

    It can get out of control fast, so make friends with the all the foremen and the General Contractor.

    We also had about 5000 feet of 2"-3" pipe disappear on us when another contractor thought it was theirs and took it home. So you need to keep an eye on your stuff.

    Also, be sure to attend the safety meetings, get your guys proper equipment (hardhat, safety glasses, gloves), and fill out the paper work for the glues and other chemicals you will be using (for OSHA).

    Finally, I've been told that the first thing you should do when you win a bid on a large commercial job (Target, Wal-Mart etc) is to get the papers written to take a lien out on the job. The contractor that did our local wal-mart had to take them to court to get paid, and didn't make any money at all on the 2 month undertaking.

    I'll never do a box store for that reason. Its easier to make money in residential.

    One final note: Get a backhoe or a mini-exavator. When your installing 3-6" pipe, trenching just doesn't do a big enough trench to make it easy. We ended up running a backhoe and a mini ex and our riding trencher all at the same time.

    Our plan also called for all pipe to be bedded in sand, so the backhoe was invaluable for moving large amounts of sand.

    Good luck :)
  9. NC_Irrigator

    NC_Irrigator LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Messages: 1,445

    Installing the system isnt going to be a problem, what im really asking for is advice on the actual bid for the project. I want to make sure i dont horribly underbid the project. So any more advice would be great!
  10. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,209

    Sorry, never bid one that big. Actually, I have never bid on a commercial job. Was always when I worked for someone else.

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