BIDDING AND NEGOTIATION
How many churches have you known that have received bids from their contractors only to realize the bid prices are significantly higher than what they have to spend? As previously stated there are many reasons this happens. It is not easily avoided, but with the right information and management, especially during the preparations of the construction documents, it can be hopefully controlled.
To avoid the “unknown” numerous churches have tried many of the new construction relationships that are currently at their disposal. Some have been successful, some have not. It is hard to say with factual certainty that one process of construction is better for a church than another, however, I personally prefer the traditional competitive bid process. This allows the church some resemblance of control over the project, their resources, and the outcome. They are able to hire the architect of their choice, hopefully one who specializes in church design. They are able to work with that architect to determine exactly the design needed to meet their ministry and financial needs. They are also able to work to prequalify a select group of general contractors to bid on their project, thus allowing responsible bidding by responsible contractors. And they are able to work with the architect throughout the construction process as he is their representative, diligently working on their behalf.
Another construction process that I have found somewhat successful for churches is a negotiated bid with a preselected general contractor. This also allows the church to choose and work with their own architect throughout the process, but it reduces the bidding process to one select general contractor. The church can work with the architect and GC to review numerous competitive bids from the sub-contractor and with these choices control the ultimate construction price prior to signing a contract. This process should only be done when there is a clear choice of a general contractor for them to work with.
Other forms of the construction process are out there for churches to choose from, design-build, construction management, etc. Unfortunately I have been called in too many times to consult after one of these relationships has proven troublesome, so I am personally not a proponent of them. I have found that in general, these processes of construction only benefit and protect one party – the contractor, and the church is always the one who suffers most during the process due to them not having an advocate on their side in the form of the qualified architect.
John W.G. Rosecrans, AIA is the Owner and President of DIMENSIONAL DYNAMICS, Architects and Planners, Inc. located at 455 Old Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, PA 19317. phone: 610.388.0755 fax 610.388.2761