Winter Bidding = Lower Costs?

By Michael S. Teller, A.I.A., NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, Principal

Bidding strategies vary, but in the world of restoration and repair, bidding work in the winter has some advantages.  Building envelope and historical restoration work must occur in the warm weather.  In New England the window for successfully performing this work is usually between April and October. 

So, working backwards from April mobilization (staging may occur during the colder month of March), and assuming no long lead items, figure a month for contract negotiation, and a month for bidding brings you back to January first.  This means the plans must be ready by the end of the year.

After the holidays everyone is hit with the cold reality of winter.  Usually, the contractor’s exterior work has been completed for the season and their work load is thin.  During the winter, there are many contractors “shaking the trees” and looking for work.  This is when they have time to bid projects.  In the dead of winter your project looks very attractive.  It is a ray of sunshine in a world where the sun sets at 4:30 PM.

Bidding results are influenced by each contractor’s current workload, their financial position, their staffing and experience, equipment, and ego. 

Certainly other factors affect the process of bidding.  Those include:

  • How well the architect/engineer has investigated the existing conditions
  • How well the scope is defined in the plans and specifications
  • Whether the materials are readily available (lead times)
  • Whether the solution has a high degree of build-ability

Winning bids and knowing they have work in the spring under their belt is a terrific psychological boost and comfort.  It then gives them the freedom to pick and choose which remaining projects to bid and how to win them with their own specialized staff, equipment, and experience.

So while the best investment in your project is a complete set of plans and specs, timing your bidding cycle to occur in the dead of winter should also pay dividends.