In between the job being sold and the job being bought out is a critical stage of project management. Most companies don’t pay enough attention to this stage of job “gestation” where the job just kinda sits out there in a state of limbo. The job has been conceived when you won the bid, but it hasn’t been born yet.
Now it’s up to you to nourish it along until the day the job is ready to be born into your company’s world.
First thing after the bid is won is to have someone — other than the estimator who put the original estimate together — sit down with the plans, specs and job file. Go over them along with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, looking for every little teensy-weensy mistake or possible error of interpretation. Write these down on a full-sized legal pad for later reference. Note the plan sheet number and specification sections they’re on.
Many times your estimator will catch a mistake. Sometimes the architect or engineer will catch it and issue a pre-bid addendum for clarification. If you catch a mistake, however, on either the design or in the specs that would definitely cost your company money as part of its contract with the owner, then red-line that sucker so your boss can take a look at it later.
If the bid has quotes from suppliers of a specialty trade you don’t particularly understand well, say, for example, quotes from controls subcontractors or from medical gas distribution device manufacturers, don’t be shy about asking someone else in the company who knows that specialty to look over those parts for you. Your firm’s future could be at stake if you fail to do otherwise.
If any suppliers have retracted their bids for any reason, then double-check to make sure you didn’t use their numbers. Look back at the price you plugged in off the green sheet on bid day. If they were the numbers you used for that part of the bid, then bring this to the attention of senior management immediately.
If no one visited the jobsite before bidding (which is the equivalent of marrying someone over the Internet, then meeting your new spouse on the honeymoon), then now is the time to go look at the physical space in which you’ll have to work.
As you’re driving to the job, check out the street layout to see if there are any overhead power lines, road weight limit imitations, or other impediments to the trailers or equipment that you’ll have to bring to the jobsite.
At the jobsite itself, try to get dibs on the best location for your office and storage trailers. The GC usually is given authority to assign spaces, but getting there and asking first will usually get you one of the better spots.
If employee parking at the jobsite is limited, then scout out neighboring vacant lots and business parking lots to try to rent some extra parking spaces for your guys.
If at all possible, have the project manager and the working superintendent visit the jobsite with you to survey the actual field conditions and match up what the architect and engineer drew to what your estimator took off, using the bid set of plans. Look for any mistakes anyone made on and from the plans, from the architect placing the front of building facing the back of the lot instead of the street, to the engineer calling for a 4-in. water service when municipal water supply lines are fully a mile or more away, to your estimator not noticing the transition halfway on the ground floor from slab-on-grade to a basement space.
If by contract you’re going to have to tie in to one or more power, water, or sewer lines to provide temporary and/or permanent services for the site and/or the building, now’s the time to call the local providers and have their locator service mark where the lines are if they’re not clearly visible. Even if they are visible, have them marked just in case there are extra ones that you don’t know about.
Carefully review your tool inventory before a single request is made for new or rental tools. Call around to the other jobs to see if they can free up any major tools that you’ll soon need.
And lastly, be thinking and asking about which crews will be available to be assigned to the job, once mobilization is complete. Chances are that senior management already knows whom they’re going to put on the job. Nevertheless, make your pitch for who you want and why. Doing so will help ensure the eventual job profitability that you’ve targeted.
Kent Craig is a second-generation mechanical contractor and project manager with unlimited Master’s licenses in boilers, air conditioning, heating and plumbing. He may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or by calling 919/851-3985.