Preparing the tender document

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Tender documents are prepared and sent out to potential contractors to seek tenders (bids) at tender phase.

Typically, the tender documents will consist of all or some of the following documents:

  • Cover letter

A formal letter inviting contractors to tender.  It will advise when and where their completed tender should be returned.

  • Invitation to tender

This provides guidance on how the tender documents are to be completed.

  • Form of tender

A covering document prepared by the client and signed by the tendering contractor to indicate that they understand the tender, accept the various terms and conditions of the contract, and other requirements of participating in the tender exercise.

  • Terms and conditions of contract

This document sets out the legal framework and the obligations of both parties signed up to the contract. Tendering contractors must read this document in conjunction with the other tender documents.

  • Bill of quantities

This document is used as the basis of submitting the tender where all prices for carrying out the work are given.  The bill of quantities assists tendering contractors in producing an estimate of costs for their tender.  It also provides a fair and accurate system for tendering.  Each invited contractor bids against the bill of quantities, stating their price for each item of work.  Their priced bill of quantities constitutes their offer.  As the bill is made up of prescribed items of work, it is possible to compare both the prices directly between each tender - this lets you make a detailed assessment of which aspects of a tender offer good or poor best value.  The prices on the bill of quantities can also assist with negotiations with the preferred tender at later stages in the tender exercise.

  • Design drawings (general layout plan, construction drawings)

These are clear and concise detailed documents about the construction site, path construction and any other related feature/ structure works.  They are the essential ingredients for informing contractors of exactly what is required to complete all the work.

  • Specifications

This document sets out what needs completing to set standards, including policies, procedures or guidelines.   It sets out the performance standards and the outcomes expected.  It describes the materials and workmanship standards.  They do not include cost, quantity, or drawn information, and so need to be read alongside the terms and conditions of the contract, bill of quantities, and construction drawings.

  • Quality requirements

A questionnaire about how the tenderer intends to provide the contracting service, including supporting evidence demonstrating relevant experience.  This information will help evaluate the quality of the tender.

  • Tender evaluation criteria

A document advising how returned tender will be evaluated against each other and the contract awarded.

  • Tender return label

A simple label giving the time and date that a tender must be returned.

  • Pre-construction information

A document giving relevant information about the project that might influence the health and safety of the paths design and work.

Tendering contractors must follow the instructions and information given in each tender document provided, as failure to do so may prevent you as the client from considering the tender properly.

Producing a tender document could appear bureaucratic for what could be seen as a small path project.  However, time spent preparing a tender document can save time and money when the work is carried out at construction phase.  There is also extra financial security in having a legally binding agreement with a contractor (or principal contractor).  The contractor gets the security of knowing that there will be no surprises on a site at their cost, which will make them more likely to price a tender competitively.  In addition, you as the client get the security of knowing that the project will be completed on time and budget.

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