Contrary to what most people think, the genesis of any construction project is not when the first stake is driven or the first dirt is moved. Indeed, it can be argued that a construction project begins in earnest when a client -- developer, homeowner, etc. -- begins soliciting bids.

In today's post, we'll take a closer look at the bidding process. Specifically, we'll look at the difference between bidding on public contracts and private contracts.

What's the primary difference in the bidding process between public contracts and private contracts?

At its core, the primary difference between the bidding process for public contracts and private contracts is formality, with the former requiring all bidders to abide by a multitude of rules and regulations. Indeed, failure to do so can result in disqualification from the process.

What exactly does the bidding process for public contracts entail?

While those contractors looking to submit bids for state or local projects will have to ensure they follow the applicable laws and regulations of that particular jurisdiction, those submitting bids for federal projects will have to follow the exacting procedures set forth by the U.S. General Services Administration.

A broad overview of the process would look something like this:

  1. A bid solicitation/advertisement for a project is officially published
  2. Procurement documents are secured and reviewed by contractors
  3. Contractors interested in the project tour the proposed site and attend a meeting on the project
  4. Bids are sought by contractors from both suppliers and subcontractors
  5. Contractors crunch the numbers and submit their sealed bid
  6. All of the submitted bids are then read privately or announced publically on a set date
  7. The winner, typically the contractor with the lowest responsible bid, is chosen

What exactly does the bidding process for private contracts entail?

As you might imagine, the bidding process for private contracts is must less formal, with the parties requesting bids far less encumbered by government regulations. Indeed, the party requesting bids sets their own rules and enjoys complete autonomy in the selection process.

Here's hoping that the foregoing discussion provided some insight into how the bidding process works. Those parties with concerns about bid issues, protests and disputes should strongly consider consulting with an experienced legal professional.