The Tender Process in Landscaping

In a previous post, we talked about visualisation of landscape design. Visualisation is really just a fancy way to say “drawings and models.” Yes, visualisation can be a huge help in developing a landscape design. In fact, it’s difficult to put together a good landscape design without scaled drawings to show the relationships between buildings, features and spaces. However, drawings aren’t just for design. They’re also for tendering.

What is Tendering?

Tendering is a bidding process that’s used in the construction industry for everything from medium-sized landscaping jobs to skyscraper construction. In tendering, landscape designers and clients put together a tender package consisting of drawing and specs. Then, a legal Request for Tender is drafted. Finally, contractors are invited to go through a competitive bidding process. Sometimes, the contractors who bid are chosen in advance. For example, we may choose several contractors who have a good reputation and are local to the job site, or we could put together a list of qualifications for bidding and make it a public tender.

Normally, the lowest bid is chosen, that contractor gets the job, and a contract is signed. However, depending on how the legal part of the tender is structured, there may be some leeway to choose a bid based on a combination of factors. It’s important to remember that it costs contractors money to submit bids, so you may be legally obligated to choose a bid based on clearly defined criteria in the Request for Tenders and to follow through.

Why Tendering?

The tendering process is a way to get a competitive price, and it also brings all the costs out into the open before construction begins, so the clients (you) know what to expect. When a contractor submits a bid, you’ll know that they’re familiar with the requirements of the job and have thought everything through in advance. Since extra

costs can cause legal problems, contractors are less likely to leave loose ends than they might be if they were working from a simple estimate.

Tendering and Visualisation

The bidding process is only as good as the contract documents, including the drawings and specifications. If it’s not absolutely clear what the project entails, then contractors will not be able to make accurate bids. Everything needs to be worked out in advance:

  • Scaled drawings so that accurate quantities of materials can be determined
  • Specs so that all the requirements for materials, assemblies and methods are known
  • Special instructions regarding timing and any other issues

Without good contract documents, contractors just can’t plan and manage the work properly and they may refuse to bid because of the high risk.

The Role of the Landscape Designer or Landscape Architect

As the landscape designers, it’s our job to create the contract documents. We’ll provide contractors with all the information they need in order to make accurate bids that will be legally binding. We’ll make sure that everything is properly drawn and detailed and nothing is left out. We’ll make sure that any specs that are needed are provided, too. The basis for any business contract is a meeting of the minds, in this case between you and the contractor. We represent your interests, and it’s our job to make sure that the contractors understand exactly what you want done.

The Role of the Client (You)

Your role is to make sure that the drawings and specs we create accurately reflect the work that you want done. It’s also your job to sign the contract and then to pay everyone. No problem, right?