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Pre-Contract Management for Construction: Tender Documentation

This article discusses tender documention that is submitted in the pre-contract management process for construction projects.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
The choice of procurement route and contract type will have a direct effect on how the tender documents are compiled.
For example, under a traditional contract the design information (bills of quantities/schedule of works/schedule of rates and preliminaries) will be issued, whereas under a design and build contract the documents are compiled together in a single document called the ‘employer’s requirements’, which the contractor responds to with their contractor’s proposals.
The following documents would be generally required:

Invitation to tender

This letter formalises that the contractor is being invited to tender on the project. It describes the project and confirms the return date. It also includes the proposed scoring mechanism, any applicable questionnaires, details for arranging site visits and details for submitting tender queries.
This document also clarifies how errors are to be dealt with and should be clarified in accordance with the JCT Tendering Practice Note 2017. It will also often have information about the proposed dates for mid- and post-tender interviews so that tenderers can keep the probable dates free in their diaries.
JCT Tendering Practice Note 2017 is a general guidance document dealing with the letting of construction contracts in the UK, and gives guidance on the tendering process as a whole.

Form of tender

This is the form that the contractor signs and returns with their proposed tender, in terms of both price and programme.

Contract conditions

A commentary on the proposed contract conditions. It is also the logical place to include any proposed contract amendments.
Contract conditions detail the ‘rules’ of the construction game, detailing the legal relationship between the employer and the contractor. The contract conditions are normally selected from well-established standard forms of contract, which are widely available.

Project information (preliminaries/works information/employer’s requirements)

This is where the project is described in detail and where the contractual obligations that the contractor is being asked to undertake are outlined. It will include (but is certainly not limited to):
  • Fluctuation procedures, ie the contract clause that will be in use if the project is being carried out in times of high inflation
  • Completion strategies, ie when the employer has specified the building is needed by; this clause can also indicate partial possession, sectional completion
  • Liquidated damages (an amount of money) payable by the contractor to the employer, if the works are not delivered on time by the contractor

Design information

The design information is the key consultant’s design and specifications. This typically includes the architect, structural engineer and services engineer but may also include any specialist design information that is required for a particular project (eg acoustician or lighting specialist).

Pricing document

The type of pricing document depends on the form of contract and the chosen procurement route. For a traditional project, a full bill of quantities is a common pricing document, and should have been prepared in accordance with a standard method of method for building and civil engineering works, typically either RICS (2012) New Rules of Measurement (NRM2) or ICE (2012) Civil Engineering Standard Method of Measurement (CESMM4) – both of which will be explained in later short courses.
However, a traditional contract may also be tendered on a specification and drawings basis, where it will be the contractor’s responsibility to produce the quantities. For a design and build contract the pricing document would be in the form of a contract sum analysis; for term contracts or tenders for frameworks, the pricing document may be a schedule of rates etc.

Typical appendices

The following list includes examples of potential documents to include in the appendices to the project (tender) information, and is by no means exhaustive:
  • Health and safety documentation (pre-construction information)
  • Key surveys for the site building (drainage, asbestos, electrical, ecological)
  • Planning permission information
  • Building control documentation
  • Proposed warranty/parent company guarantee/performance bond wording
  • Party wall agreements
  • Building condition surveys
  • Risk register (outlines which risk the tenderers are expected to take on)

Your task

The following comments could apply to one-stage, two-stage, and/or negotiated tendering processes for either traditional or design and build procurement methods.
– Most competitive price
– Contractor not fully understanding project may lead to a higher ‘risk allowance’
– Programme implication to include tender period
– Increased contractor involvement in design
– Some degree of competition
– Ability to overlap design and tendering
– Lack of competitiveness during second stage
– Programme implication to include a tender period (although this can be overlapped with design)
– Most contractor involvement in design process
– No programme implication
– Lack of competitiveness
– May not be suitable for public procurement contracts
– No contractor involvement
– Contractor involvement may reduce outstanding design/construction risk
– Ability to overlap tendering and design
– No incentive for contractor to mitigate
– Contractor involvement throughout process will enable more effective mitigation of risk throughout the design process by the contractor
– No tendering period required on programme
– No competition may result in high contract offers
Choose one tendering process.
Look again at the comments above and decide if they represent an advantage or disadvantage for traditional or design and build procurement within your chosen process.
We have provided the following tables in both PDF and MS Word formats to help you.
Stages table
Once you are happy with where you have put the comments in the table, share on your Describing the stages Padlet wall where you think the comments belong.
Compare your approach with some of your fellow learners’ suggestions to discuss any similarities or differences.

Please remember to:

  • Add a short description to briefly explain your rationale and how this informs your practice
  • Have a look at the contributions of your colleagues and post any comments if you wish to
  • Ensure that any material you share respects both copyright and the wider audience

Help using Padlet

Padlet is a simple tool that allows you to post your ideas and/or share media (eg images, video) with other learners.
To add your content to the wall select the + icon or double-click on the wall itself. You will then be able to either upload what you have discovered or link to a URL that is available in your browser address bar. For more information on how to post, please visit the Padlet website.
If you have trouble uploading your visual representation, you may try to use another wall or create a link of what you have created, which you can post in the comments area below along with your comments.
By following any of the links to Padlet you will be taken to a third-party website. On this website you may be asked to submit some information about yourself. Please make sure you are familiar with the terms and conditions and privacy policy of the third-party website before submitting your information.
Whether you follow the links and submit your personal information or not, your course progress will be in no way affected.


Institution of Civil Engineers (2012) CESMM4: Civil Engineering Standard Method of Measurement. 4th edn. [online] London: ICE. available from [6 May 2020]
JCT (2017) Tendering 2017 Practice Note [online] available from [6 May 2020]
Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (2012) NRM 2: Detailed Measurement for Building Work [online] Coventry: RICS. available from [6 May 2020]
Task adapted from Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (2016) Tendering Strategies. 1st edn. [online] London: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. available from [6 May 2020]
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Pre-Contract Management for Construction Projects: The Basics

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