Construction Business Management


Pre-Bid Site Inspection

You can minimize the risk of error or oversight in bidding site work by developing a broad-based checklist to be used on all pre-bid site visits. Such a general checklist can then be customized to accommodate the specifics of the site being investigated.

Make the site inspection early enough in the bid process to allow time for running down any differences you discover between the project’s bid documents and the actual conditions. Any such differences must be resolved prior to bidding.

Never make the assumption that a site is so simple and straightforward that no site visit is necessary and rely solely on the bid documents. Site work holds tremendous opportunity for risk as well as profit.

Here are some of the factors to consider in the course of a pre-bid site inspection:

  • Completeness of the bid documents. You may leave yourself liable for the cost of correcting site conditions that are not noted or are inaccurately shown on the bid documents if those conditions could have been discovered in the process of a thorough pre-bid site inspection.
  • Soil and subsurface conditions. Look for evidence of rock, seeping water, unsuitable soil, and surface drainage from adjacent property that may not be indicated by the bid documents.
  • Access to the site. Traffic patterns or other factors may render material deliveries and subcontractor access impractical at certain times. Logistics especially becomes a factor on projects that are constructed inside other buildings—for example, building out a space inside an office building or hotel; more so if not on the street-level floor of the building.
  • Logistics. Consider the additional time involved in moving all of your equipment and construction materials to and from the jobsite by way of an elevator, especially one that will also be used by the building occupants during construction.
  • Surface drainage. Soil conditions and drainage of surface and runoff water from adjacent properties can render the site unworkable at times. Non-porous soils may require several days after rain to become dry enough to permit site work activities.
  • Weather norms. In some areas and seasons, weather conditions can be a significant factor in projecting cost and construction time. Only extraordinary conditions may be cited to justify excused delays.
  • Security. Some urban locations in high-crime areas require fencing and manned security throughout the construction period, sometimes around the clock.
  • Use of adjoining and nearby properties. Judge whether the business and other activities on nearby properties could affect when and how you carry out your work.
  • Adjacent or nearby structures. Determine whether the proposed work may cause damage to nearby property.
  • Availability of resources. Consider the availability and proximity of subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment rental sources, etc.
  • Environmental issues. Contractors and others on-site may be held responsible for the proper handling of on-site hazardous materials in accordance with the governing rules and regulations.
  • Available space. Determine where field office, storage trailers, materials, worker vehicles, etc. will be placed.
  • Presence of utilities. Determine presence of the utilities that will be required during the construction process and for the permanent facility.
  • Relocation of utilities. Relocation of a heavily-loaded power pole and other utilities can be time consuming and very expensive. Know who pays the cost. Obtain relocation cost figures from the utility owner. Don’t guess.
  • Other factors as dictated by the project at hand.

The above common sense factors should not be considered a comprehensive list for any given project.

The author of this article, Nick Ganaway, was a successful general contractor for 25 years. He is a consultant in Atlanta, Georgia for contractors and other small business owners. Nick has described how to set up and manage a construction business that is profitable, enjoyable, and enduring in his book Construction Business Management: What Every Construction Contractor, Builder & Subcontractor Needs to Know.


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