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Proposals Reprised, Part 2

It feels like déjà vu all over again.—Yogi Berra

Last month we established five distinct components to an effective proposal: the opening statement, the pricing breakout, an inclusions list, an exclusions list and a summary paragraph. At that time, we focused on the first two items. And so for the purpose of this second writing, we turn our attention to the final three: two specific itemizations and a general roll-up that also serves as a catch-all for any critical items that may have been passed over.


The inclusions section should be comprised of a series of bullet points that, among other clarifications, takes the scope items to a more specific level. For instance, whereas the opening identifies ACT as a scope element, the inclusions will specify the particular grid and tile type, right down to make, model and part number. Similarly, where the general scope statement in the opening included “drywall,” the inclusions will be more precise, citing “5/8 X drywall, Level 4 finish,” or the like. Accordingly, the inclusions segment is the proper place to state the particular products cited in the specifications manual.


The exclusions portion of an effective proposal will likely be the most extensive segment, and perhaps the most critical. This is because it is the section in which certain items are disavowed—items that a general contractor might assume are included by default, but are in fact, not included in the proposed price at all.


The exclusions list should, first and foremost, cite scope items that could be considered complementary to the drywall scope but are not specifically solicited in the invitation to bid. Broad scope items such as painting, ACT, EIFS, plaster and insulation, in addition to lesser items like FRP, building wrap, fire caulking and temporary partitions are expressly disallowed here in order to avoid any undue confusion at bid time—misunderstanding stemming from any false assumptions.


More particular contingencies that do not directly involve scope per se should be cited here as well. Such lesser items as engineered shop drawings, parking, OCIP, LEED costs, permits, Dumpster and/or hauling, badging, facilities, control lines for layout are just a few examples of a much more extensive list. But in the process of raising any possible contingencies, it is critical that the items pertain specifically to the project at hand. In fact, the most important point to emphasize in this writing is the essential need to custom tailor the exclusions segment to fit the distinct parameters of the particular project (as should all portions of the proposal). Of course, one can and should use a thorough proposal as a template for most projects. But all too often we fall prey to the temptation of using the model as a shortcut, failing to omit or add information according to the specifics of the particular project.


The summary paragraph should state such overarching considerations as the life of the proposal (good for 30 days), possible price escalations for extended schedule, bonding rate, requested breakouts, allowances, experience modifier rate and billing concerns, plus any other general items that may have been omitted.


As stated in the previous month’s installment, a thorough proposal is an essential instrument of communication—invaluable to the bidding process, the scope review, as well as to the post-award process. But a proposal’s efficacy depends on how well it addresses the issues that are specific to the particular project. Accordingly, each should be uniquely crafted by the astute bidmeister.

Vince Bailey is an estimator/project manager working in the Phoenix area.

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