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Chase Plumber
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm new to the bidding process of a commercial job and was curious of how it worked.

We done a school about 2 years ago and the supplier (Ferguson) won that bid, the supplier bid. . So that kinda threw me for a loop .. . I'm use to pricing labor & material or just labor on a job. .

How does it work to bid a big commercial job in?
 

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I believe that it is your responsibility to bid material and award that bid. Depends on the job, but I have seen some where all fixtures are provided by the owner and some that require the plumber to supply. But all floor drains, primers, backflow devices, floor sinks stuff like this you need to bid.
 

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Professional Bullshioter
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6,092 Posts
We bid jobs based on materials, labor, and profit. Don't normally bid jobs where someone else supplies material. I want to make a markup on it and the customer wants a turn key complete job. If I supply something and there is a problem, I fix it. If the owner supplies it, it gets a little sticky if there is defective materials.
 

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I'll take a stab at this with what little I know on commercial bidding.
It's a numbers game, bid as many jobs as you can, bid high and wait to see what comes back.
Your better off not getting larger jobs at low rates than getting high cost jobs at under-bids.
I have seen my share of new shops loose their shirts when they fall a few weeks behind and cannot make payroll before the next incrimental check is due.
I saw a comment elsewhere on this forum about Ferguson bidding commercial jobs(?)...
IF thats so, forget it...you won't match their stock pricing...which arouses questions on whether it's true that they do plumbing and whether it's not an illegal conflict of interest.
 

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I saw a comment elsewhere on this forum about Ferguson bidding commercial jobs(?)...
IF thats so, forget it...you won't match their stock pricing...which arouses questions on whether it's true that they do plumbing and whether it's not an illegal conflict of interest.
It is not unusual on large commercial projects for the GC to get a quote on the fixtures and supply them to gain the markup that can be made on them.

What you are bidding is going to dictate what parameters you use to bid it, a school would be much different than a high rise, because government work is going to be prevailing wage, and you can bid it exactly as drawn because government jobs only have to meet BOCA code. A high rise you have to bid a bit different, because if you have someone on staff that can do design, you can work with the architect after you are awarded the job to start eliminating stacks, an eliminated stack can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars saved on the job. High rise work is all about being able to size and design systems that can provide for the building with the fewest number of stacks.
 

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Retired Moderator
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I do plumbing for a GC who is in WVA and he supplies all materials. I just do labor. Sometimes I have had GC's give me thier labor number and wait to see if i can do it for that amount.
 

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Retired Moderator
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yeh, I know. But I had a bad year. My son got into trouble and my wife asked (Told) me we had to bail him out. We did, he skipped court. Cost me 90,000.00:furious:

Put me in one hell of a bind. Dont have much money to back up materials right now. Am getting back out the hole soon.

Lesson, kids get locked up, tough luck:)
 

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Master Plumber
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1,069 Posts
yeh, I know. But I had a bad year. My son got into trouble and my wife asked (Told) me we had to bail him out. We did, he skipped court. Cost me 90,000.00:furious:

Put me in one hell of a bind. Dont have much money to back up materials right now. Am getting back out the hole soon.

Lesson, kids get locked up, tough luck:)
Sorry to hear that man. Really am. Proud of you for going on.
 

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Retired Moderator
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Sorry to hear that man. Really am. Proud of you for going on.
Thanks. Its not been easy. Thats why I can not afford the materials on larger commercial jobs. I am not scared of them, aint nothing but pipes. I am just determined to get my share of what this world owes me and whosever share that dont want it!
 

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Professional Bullshioter
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Most small shops I see trying to get into the larger scale commercial jobs come up on the huge hurdle of not being able to get the performance bond. Gotta have a pretty big net worth and be fairly liquid to retain one.
 

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2nd Generation LMP
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Through my years I found that it is best to bid labor and the materials to rough-in for and install owner or G C supplied fixtures. I know I may be loosing a profit margin I could be making on the fixtures. Say you supply the fixtures and one or more have a defect than there goes your markup profit and than some. Having to uninstall fixture running to supply house to try and get one with out a defect then finding out its out of stock and will have to be special ordered. I have also ran into times where G C want to try put off paying for finale payment by clamming a wrong fixture was installed. So I let the owners and G C supply the fixtures and if problems arise it's on them. I just tell them call me after you get it straighten out. Then I will return to install the new fixture. That way is no lost time on me and I am free to do other jobs.
 

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2nd Generation LMP
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Listen and learn of the proper way to apply markup lets say your cost to do the job is $500 labor and materials to figure a 20% markup you minus 20 from 100 = 80 than you take the $500 and divide by .80 which will give you a selling price of $625 Also in the $500 dollar cost don't forget to include the 2 types of overhead cost direct and indirect which is always there even if you are not making money.
 

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I Married Up
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Whether or not you supply materials should not affect your profit.

Let's say you want to clear $500 on a project after all overhead and related expenses are paid.

If you provide labor and fixtures, you might want to clear $250 above your overhead on your labor and clear $250 above your cost on providing materials. In the end your earned the $500 profit you feel you deserve.

Now, just because the GC decided he want to make a buck on the toilets, do you believe you are worth $500 less? I certainly hope not. So if he wants to provide all the little widgets and do the running to make that magic happen then so be it. It shouldn't change the fact that you need to clear $500 at the end of the job. So your labor rate has to be higher if you're not getting your profit from the materials.

No different than a residential customer supplied fixture. That is why in general my customers requesting an itemized estimate will see fixtures at or near our actual cost. That is because I sell a completed service and skill, not fixtures. Your service and expertise as a plumber is worth XX dollars no matter who the errand boy is that picked up the toilets from the supply house. At the end of the day, a plumbing truck HAS to generate a certain amount of net $$. I don't care if you are changing bib washers or installing 14K gold sinks. Your bills are the same so you have to generate the same revenue.

Deciding what your going to make based on what fixture you can sell is silly. The ability for plumbers to CONSISTENTLY sell materials at a specified markup as part of their core revenue is not economically sound. Those days started to fade when Builders Square opened and continue to fade with the strength and buying power of Home Depot, Lowe's, and the internet. If you want to make money on materials, open a supply house or hardware store. Otherwise, realize the edge you really have is selling your expertise because that is not on the shelf at any store.

If you bid bigger jobs based on the net money you want regardless of who supplies widgets, you will likely lose most if not all of them because those projects are all geared to only one person getting a real profit...the GC. Any money you make will always be viewed by him as money he lost. It's a losing game that too many plumbers foolishly think they can win.
 

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every tool is a hammer
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We work mostly industrial, a little commercial and schools. We mark up 10%. A lot of our stuff is T&M. We include the supply tickets with their prices on them, marked up 10%. Our labor is about 110 an hour. Some customers we drop the labor and mark up 30%. It still usually comes out the same. On bids, I mark up material 20% to cover supply house screwups, defective fixtures, and the time spent straightening out the mess.
 

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Banned
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no wonder for the passed 5 years or so my bids on commercial and industrial is been so high compared to everyone else.

I always make sure on my bids that I have a huge window to clear a profit.

I always max out my labour rates and when it comes to material I used full alpriser pricing. and then I mark that up.....

At the end of it all once everything is added up .... material , labour, rental, equipment, overhead and etc.

And then I put another 10% on top of my total....

The last 10% is for the hold back.... which is always a fight to get the full amount...... so if I dont get it ...no big deal....and if I get it great...I just made a nice 10% bonus on the whole job..
 

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Super Moderator
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The bldg contractor that uses me for re-models one time comes back and beats me up with my bid price. I catch on quick. Now I add a 'cushion'. I know, I know, some of you say don't lower the price by one cent. But I wasn't willing to walk away from a particular job so I came down a few bucks. So now with the 'cushion' if I have to lower a price, I will still get the price I originally wanted and more importantly, the cust thinks he's getting something. If my original price sticks, I earn a little bit more.
 
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