A project rarely finishes better than it starts! - Barry Eady

4 Ways GCs and Subcontractors Can Improve Communication

We’ve heard some great feedback on our recent blog posts “6 Ways to Level the Bidding Playing Field” and “Building Bridges with GCs.”

Barry Eady is a Senior Estimator with BL Harbert International, one of our general contractors, and he wrote to us to share four ways GCs and subcontractors can improve communication.

Here’s what he had to say:

“A project rarely finishes better than it starts!

It’s all about clear communication from the beginning to the end of the project.


  1. Keep your proposal simple and easy for the general contractor (GC) to find the information related to your scope of work you are bidding. Example: On the cover page provide the following:
    1. Your name, phone number including your extension, and email address.
    2. The project name and location.
    3. Acknowledge the number of Addenda issued to date.
    4. Your bond rate. Most GCs bond subcontracts greater than $100,000 and/or that are a part of the building envelope.
    5. Your Base Bid Amount.
    6. Your Alternate Bid Amount(s) if applicable.
    7. Your Unit Price(s) if applicable.
    8. The Division(s) or Specification Section(s) your are bidding; including Division 00 & 01.
    9. List all your exclusion(s) from the Division(s) or Specification Section(s) you are bidding.
    10. Then list your company’s typical clarifications.
  2. Submit your scope sheet to the GC at least one day before the bid. Call the GC and review the scope sheet. Is the scope sheet complete?  What needs to be coordinated with other trades (access, hoisting, embeds, caulk, paint, etc)?  Acknowledge the mock-up requirements. Acknowledge the Seismic Design Category, etc.

General Contractors

  1. Let the subcontractors know how they did after the bid.
  2. Help the subcontractor succeed. If the subcontractor succeeds, you and the project will succeed.”

Barry mentioned that having all of this information on the cover sheet will help general contractors be more efficient and help subcontractors make sure they have all of the information they need for their bid. It’s a win-win for both sides. He also said that discussing the scope of the work before bid day when subcontractors submit their scope sheet will help everyone get on the same page.

Finally, Barry said that keeping lines of communication open was important. He stressed that if a subcontractor calls for feedback on a bid, he gives it to them.

I spoke with our Training and Development Manager, Ken Y., and he had this to add:

“I think there are two elements that should be added to Bid Requirements.

•            Include the approval dates of the drawings and of any addenda that are included with the bid.

•            Line item your bid and include drawing numbers and details as needed for clarity. For example, ‘100 L’ of Watertable Per Detail 6/A4.1′.

These two things should throw up any red flags to the GC if the scope of work was not entirely covered or documents were misinterpreted.”

What do you think about Barry’s advice and Ken’s addition? Do you have more to add?

Share your thoughts in the comments or reach out via social media. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

4 replies
  1. Greg
    Greg says:

    That article was written like a typical general contractor would write it, all about their benefit and nothing for the benefit of the subcontractor.

  2. Ashley B.
    Ashley B. says:

    It would be nice if the GC could Enter on the Invitation to Bid, When the Estimated Start Date is for the Project. This serves a 2-Fold Purpose:

    1.) It will help the Estimators who are Pricing Material (Example: Plant Lists), when Calling their Vendors, to find out what Time of Year this will be needed; which will ensure better Cost-Planning / No Increase Suprises, when the Project is finally Ready for Construction.

    2.) It will also allow the Estimator to know when to Contact the GC back regarding Project Awards, since you’ll know when they should be about ready to Start.

    Sometimes the Project Manual does have the Time-Frame, other times I have not seen it on there. This just helps the Estimating Process run quicker & smoother in all Departments assisting.

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