What is meant by the term ‘tender’?

Before leaping into the lengthy details of the construction tendering process, it is necessary to first establish exactly what ‘tendering’ is.

A tender is often described as bid for a contract or a formal offer to carry out work.

It is most commonly referred to in the construction industry as a ‘request for tender’, in which qualified suppliers or contractors are invited to submit bids for construction on a clearly defined construction project during a specific timeframe.

This structured process is pre-defined by law, ensuring fair and equal opportunities for suppliers to bid for business. The process is therefore not affected by extraneous factors such as bribery or nepotism.

Stages leading to tender in construction

Before the tendering process can begin, many stages of the construction project will have already taken place. These will include:

1. Assembling a professional consultant team (architect, building services consultant, structural consultant and cost consultant)

2. The drawing up of the proposed plans and designs for the construction project to be submitted to the local planning authority

3. After local consultation and wholesale approval from the local planning authority has been completed, the tendering process can begin

The construction tendering process

This process involves the creation of a ‘skeletal’ framework of contractors and suppliers who will be assigned to specific elements of the proposed construction plans.

When a construction project is ‘open to tender’, contractors and suppliers interested to bid for the opportunity will submit a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ).

The PQQ process seeks to identify which of the potential candidates are most suitable for the required work. From this, the shortlisted candidates will be able to bid for tender.

These final candidates present a proposal to the client outlining how they will adhere to the brief of the requirements of the project. Upon receiving these, the client will further negotiate with the candidates before one is finally chosen for the project.

This selected (main) contractor will then outsource and invite Tier 2 package suppliers to bid for specialist areas of the project such as building services and roofing.

From here on in the same process is the followed down to each supplier whereby a fair bid proposal structure is followed thus successful candidates are selected to carry out the proposed work.

Whilst this can seem like a lengthy process, all of these required elements make the tendering process a much more structured and logical method of ensuring a quality and error-free construction project.