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Tender Documentation for Construction Projects - An Overview

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Added on  2024-01-18

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This article provides an overview of tender documentation for construction projects. It explains the purpose and importance of tender documents, and discusses the different components such as drawings, specifications, and bills of quantities. The article also highlights the potential issues that can arise from inadequate tender documents and emphasizes the need for clear and comprehensive documentation.

Tender Documentation for Construction Projects - An Overview

   Added on 2024-01-18

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Technological University DublinTechnological University Dublin
ARROW@TU Dublin
ARROW@TU Dublin
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School of Surveying and Construction
Management

2015-11-19

Tender Documentation for Construction Projects - An Overview
Tender Documentation for Construction Projects - An Overview
Tony Cunningham
Technological University Dublin, tony.cunningham@tudublin.ie
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Tender Documentation for Construction Projects - An Overview_1
1
TENDER DOCUMENTATION FOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
AN OVERVIEW

Tony Cunningham
School of Surveying and Construction Management
Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street, Dublin 1.

Introduction.

The tender documents form the basis of the contractor’s offer
to construct the works.
The tender documents are the means by which the employer’s design and/or works
requirements are communicated to the tendering contractors. These inform the contractor of
the scope and detail of the project, the conditions under which the work will be executed, and
they identify the rights and obligations of the various participants under the proposed
contract. The tender documents enable contractors to price the works requirements and
submit an offer (bid) which, if accepted by the employer becomes a binding contract. Some
of the tender documents will, in turn, become contract documents. Many, if not most, of the
financial problems in building originate in inadequate or unclear tender documents,
culminating in disputes between employers and builders over what is included in the price for
the work. It is important therefore, that quantity surveyors have a clear understanding of the
nature and purpose of the various documents used for tendering purposes. This study
examines these documents in the context of ‘mainstream’ Irish procurement approaches.

Tender documentation

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER, 2012) states that tender
documentation consists of technical, administrative and contractual material. The chosen
procurement route and the form of contract determine the nature of tender documentation to
be issued to the tendering contractors. Table 1 identifies three widely-used tender documents:
drawings, specifications and bills of quantities and summarises their status/nature under the
most frequently used Irish forms of contract. Readers may wish to refer to a separate study
Choosing an Appropriate Main Contract for Building Work in the Republic of Ireland - an
Overview (available on-line at
http://arrow.dit.ie/beschreoth/22/ ) by the Author for a
discussion of the nature of the various forms of contract identified in Table 1.

The Form of Tender and the Preliminary Health and Safety Plan together with instructions to
tenderers and other relevant documents are also provided to contractors On public sector
Tender Documentation for Construction Projects - An Overview_2
2
projects the tender documentation comprises: the Invitation to Tender; the Works
Requirements; the Form of Tender and Schedule referencing one of the standard forms of
contract; any novated design documents; a Suitability Assessment Questionnaire; and other
background information.

Form of Contract
Drawings Specifications Bill of Quantities
Private Sector Procurement

RIAI ‘Blue’ Form.
Full working drawing. Full detailed
specification.

Unusual

A form of contract sum
analysis such as a bill of
quantities may be issued
with the status of a
schedule of rates.

RIAI ‘Yellow’ Form
General arrangement
drawings

Drawings referred to in
the bills of quantities.

Not normally issued.

Will be issued if the bills
of quantities descriptions
refer to specification
clauses not covered by
the bill’s preambles.

Full bill of quantities.

Typical Design and
Build.

Contractor generated.

May be based on
preliminary drawings
provided in employer’s
requirements for further
contractor development.

Contractor generated.

Based on full output/
performance specification
as part of employer’s
requirements.

Not applicable.

A form of contract sum
analysis may be provided
by the employer.

Pu
blic Sector Procurement
PW-CF1 Traditional.
Fully developed working
drawings.

Full detailed
specification.

Pricing Document not
necessarily a BQ.

PW-CF2 Design- Build.
Contractor generated.
May be based on
preliminary drawings
provided in employer’s
requirements for further
contractor development.

Contractor generated.

Based on full output/
performance specification
as part of employer’s
requirements.

Not applicable.

A format of contract sum
analysis may be provided
by the employer.

Table 1 Tender documentation associated with ‘mainstream’ contract arrangements

Tender documentation on ‘Traditional’ procurement routes

The Invitation to Tender

The Invitation to Tender is a formal request made to the tendering contractors to submit bids
for the project. The invitation letter is typically a simple ‘one pager’ and contains instructions
Tender Documentation for Construction Projects - An Overview_3
3
to the tendering contractors. The invitation typically informs the contractor which documents
have been attached, the arrangements for site and consultant visits, the deadline for the return
of tenders and how the tender should be submitted (Brook, 2008). The Liaison Committee
(2006) have published a model form of invitation for private sector use. On public sector
projects, the particular form of invitation to tender depends on whether the procurement
procedure is open or restricted (selective). Open tendering uses Form ITTW 2, restricted
tendering uses Form ITTW 1 (DPER, 2012).

The Form of Tender

Th
e form of tender contains the contractor’s formal offer to carry out the works identified in
the other tender documents for the quoted
price(s).
The Form of Tender is a key tender document as it constitutes the contractor’s offer to carry
out the works requirements. A binding contract, typically, comes into immediate existence if
the employer accepts this offer without further qualification.

The Liaison Committee (2006) have issued a model form of tender for private sector use.
Typical forms of tender are addressed to the employer and sets out the tender sum and
frequently the contract period also. The form is dated, signed (and witnessed where required).
The Department of Public Enterprise and Reform have issued a range of forms of tender for
use with particular public works contracts. These forms of tender are considerably longer
than their private sector counterparts as they contain the Contract Schedule which sets out
project specific particulars (DPER, 2014).

The Drawings

The d
rawings show the nature and scope of the work to be carried out.
The nature of the drawn information included in the tender documents depends on the
proposed form of contract. The key classification concerns whether the contracts are let on a
with quantities basis (RIAI ‘Yellow Form for example) or on a without
quantities’/‘drawings and specification’ basis (RIAI ‘Blue Form for example). This key
distinction identifies which party carries the risk for incorrect quantities.

Projects let on a without quantities basis’ require fully-developed designs consisting of
construction-quality drawings and details as part of the tender documentation. These
comprise full location, component and detail drawings. In theory, the drawings should be
Tender Documentation for Construction Projects - An Overview_4

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