general contracting experience
January 17, 2012 4:04 PM   Subscribe

I really need to sit down with a General Contractor, or Architect, to get a better understanding of estimating, bids, and contracts. I'd pay for the time, since it really is consulting, and I respect their busy time. Have contacted SCORE here in NY, but no result from it yet. I know a few GCs working on a small, residential level; but it would be inappropriate for me to approach them cause we may be working together. Have tried to ask some questions here on Meta, but they are too specific. A book, or reference won't do it. I need real, current info. Any ideas?
posted by ebesan to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
What are you trying to do here? Get a bid for a project? Go out and get one. You know how.

If, on the other hand, you're trying to learn how to bid a project... many if not most significant contractors use bid software these days, and it ain't cheap. Not the good stuff anyway. Here's one that doesn't even advertise the price, i.e. if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

But here's a textbook on the subject. That's right, there are actually courses on this sort of thing, and I'd bet you almost anything that buying that book and taking a class somewhere is going to be both far more informative and way cheaper than trying to pay an industry professional to teach you ad hoc.

If, on the gripping hand, you're looking for info on how to bid an actual project in the immediate near future, I'd suggest that you probably aren't ready to do that yet. Construction is a business, and if you don't know enough about the business to even know how to submit a bid properly, you're probably not ready to do this profitably or efficiently. Take your time and do it right, or you'll probably live to regret it.
posted by valkyryn at 5:08 PM on January 17, 2012

From the previous questions, it looks like the asker is intending to build a house and is wanting to ask a GC questions about the bid process before starting. Which, in case it needs to be said, is a totally reasonable thing to do.

I know a few GCs working on a small, residential level; but it would be inappropriate for me to approach them cause we may be working together.

Are you sure? Unless there is some secret level to your questions, asking a GC you already kind of know and hope to work with in the future seems kind of ideal to me, and you can treat the asking process as a vetting for the bid process. A good contract situation (in any industry) is not based on the different parties trying to fuck each other, and there is a huge amount of trust needed, no matter how ironclad the contract language is. Bidding takes a lot of time (in other words, is very expensive for the contractor), so having a pre-existing relationship lets them know ahead of time if this is going to be worth their time or not.

Alternatively, if you are truly deadset on asking someone you won't end up working with, call people who are off your list for some reason -- maybe they are based too far away, or they only build McMansions and you want an adobe shepherd's hut, say (or more realistically, they specialize in commercial construction and yours is residential).
posted by Forktine at 5:21 PM on January 17, 2012

I'm not bidding; I'm not looking for one. I'm on the sidelines of a project right now; these issues are going by me, and I'd like a better understanding of the details. Longer term, yes, I've located classes, and it is one of several options.
posted by ebesan at 5:28 PM on January 17, 2012

Contractors and Architects are not going to give you their numbers for estimating bids. Full stop.

That stuff is super protected in each office as trade-secret-type stuff, only gained through experience in the industry. In my office, we frequently use numbers we've gotten by putting out so many projects for bid. All of this stuff varies by locale.

Your only option? Hire a professional.
posted by Kronur at 6:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry. Thanks for your time. I've made a hash out of this, I guess. There is no need for a professional. There is no submission. I'm not even that interested in the nos. I am not contractually involved. I am on the side, looking on as the Project unfolds, and want to understand Divisions, sequencing, Inspection Sign-offs, AIA 701 and 201 etc. A better understanding of how this end (contracting) is put together. I will find a GC somewhere and ply him w/ questions over a few beers. I answered my question.
posted by ebesan at 7:01 PM on January 17, 2012

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