We recommend against the evaluation method that weighs the lowest bidder such that they are always selected. Clearly the price provided is a very important consideration but even before prices can be compared, you first need to make sure the proposals can be compared. To make a cost comparison make sense, you need to make sure that the scope between different proposals is the same. If you have followed our recommended process and asked all contractors to bid the same scope that still does not imply that the resultant proposals can be compared. It is not uncommon for contractors to exclude tasks you asked to be a part of their bid because they are not comfortable doing these tasks or because they know the excluded tasks will be costly and so be excluding them, their proposal lower.
We use exclusions and we believe many projects can only be bid fairly with exclusions. Why? Because often there are unknowns that cannot be reasonably estimated. To not exclude this unknown would mean either too much cost is included in the proposal to cover anything that might be uncovered or insufficient costs are included for which the contractor is going to lose money and may look to regain it elsewhere at your expense. For example, connecting new plumbing waste to an existing underground waste line can be difficult to estimate before any work is done. Sure, an experienced plumber might have a good idea where a connection can be made (and in some projects the connection point found), but usually some investigating must be done with special cameras and other equipment that is not normally provided at no charge. In this illustration, a contractor that includes this connection in their proposal without any exclusions is at best gambling that they have correctly guessed where the connection can be made. If they are correct then all will proceed as planned. If they are wrong, then who is going to pay the extra money? Will the contractor simply absorb the extra cost or will the contractor ask you to pay it either directly or by adding this unplanned extra cost to the next request you make for more work? Most contractors are prepared to absorb some extra costs but depending on the size of the project, it may not be practical for a contractor to absorb all extras, hence exclusions.
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