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(h) Conditions of payment.
It would be necessary to state these only in case they varied much from common practice. (See Arts. 57, 58.) The variation might be so great as to deter some contractors from undertaking the work.
(i) Information as to consultation of plans, etc.
State explicitly where and when plans and other information can be examined, whether they will be mailed gratuitously on request or whether or not copies may be borrowed on payment of a deposit. The latter arrangement is becoming increasingly common where the drawings are elaborate and the specifications voluminous, and their duplication would involve considerable expense.
(j) Reservation of the right to reject all bids.* Rejection of all bids may be advisable where:
(i) There exists a well-grounded suspicion of collusion between bidders, or of some other form of fraud.
(ii) The lowest bidder is known to be irresponsible or notably inefficient.
(iii) Radical changes in the design are found necessary during the interval preceding the opening of the bids.
(k) The Advertisement should be dated and signed by the clerk, secretary or other proper person, and the name of the Engineer should appear thereon.
The student should prepare an Advertisement for work of a simple nature (See Chap. XIII), using the above outline. Numerous examples will be found in current issues of technical periodicals.
14. Information for Bidders. After a contractor has become sufficiently interested in the work to seriously contemplate bidding there are a number of preliminary questions which it is natural that he should ask. For the convenience of Owner and Engineer and in order to treat all the contractors uniformly, there is often prepared a pamphlet, termed "Information for Bidders,” in which answers to these questions are embodied.
* In some localities no rejection is allowed. (See Art. 19.)
In it is perhaps reiterated most or all of the Advertisement (or Notice to Contractors), portions being given at greater length; it
may include, in addition, information on any or all of the following points, among others:
(a) Reference to action authorizing work, or to statutes governing.
In case the Owner is represented by a Town Council, for example, or is a private corporation, reference should here be made to any resolutions empowering the proper officers to proceed with the awarding of the contract. This enables the bidder for his own protection to examine into the matter and perchance avoid being drawn into a contract later to be declared void. The bidder's attention should also at this point be called to any statutes vitally and directly affecting the work or the cost thereof. The entire clause is sometimes made part of the specifications proper.
(6) Restriction of bidders.
Some municipalities will not accept proposals from contractors with whom they have had unpleasant dealings in the past - who have defaulted on contracts, for instance
or with whom they may be at the time in litigation.
Would an alien be debarred from bidding? (c) Bidders to state experience.
This is a common requirement in certain classes of United States Government contracts demanding more than ordinary technical skill and training on the part of the Contractor lighthouse construction for example.
(d) Samples to accompany.
Samples are necessary where it is thought advisable to allow some latitude in materials, or where a material is somewhat untried or difficult to describe. This provision finds wide application in connection with paving work. The samples in such cases are used as standards by which to judge the material later furnished. It has sometimes been provided that each bidder submit samples of the best and of the poorest grade of material he proposes to furnish. Where preliminary comparative tests are to be conducted, samples need to be submitted to the Engineer some time previous to the date set for opening bids.
(e) Instructions for preparing bids.
These cannot be too clear and explicit; failure in this respect may result in serious hardship to Owner or bidder. Directions should be given for endorsing bids, the required enclosures should be noted, together with instructions for sending them by mail. It may even be best in some instances to outline for the bidder's benefit his whole course of procedure in filling out the form and presenting the proposal.
(1) Detailed estimate of quantities.
The Advertisement sometimes contains this, but in general it should not. The Engineer may here enter into considerable detail, if it will further enlighten prospective bidders. It is best to state that the estimate is approximate only (if such be the case). If unit prices are submitted, this estimate is used as a basis for comparing bids.
Care in the preparation of this estimate is quite essential. A large error might involve serious consequences, even in the case of unit prices.
A certain Water Commission advertised for bids for building a dam, enumerating in the Advertisement and the Information for Bidders the approximate amounts of the several items included in the work. This statement followed: “The above estimated quantities are approximate and the Board of Water Commissioners reserves the right to increase or diminish the same as may be necessary in the judgment of the E eer.” It was further stated that each bidder must visit the work and inform himself as to the conditions. The work proved to be different than had been anticipated and some of the quantities many times greater than those given in the estimate, and the Contractor refused to finish.
The City sued him but lost the suit.
The student may prepare an “Information for Bidders” for a sewer system in a small town, making all assumptions required.
"Every contract springs from the acceptance of an offer.” This Chapter is devoted to a consideration of the form of an offer or proposal for doing construction work. The relative advantages of “lump sum” and “unit price” proposals are considered, also the troublesome question of “unbalanced bids."
15. Necessity for Form. – A proposal is in essence simply an offer on the part of the bidder to do the work for a certain remuneration. It is quite customary for the Engineer to prepare a "Form of Proposal" and to require that each bidder make use of it. Such form is necessary for three reasons:
(a) As a rule there are a number of conditions and qualifications necessary to append to the simple offer.
(6) A form insures definiteness (or precision). Since the bidder has simply to fill in certain blanks in sentences already framed for him it is reasonably certain that he will convey just the meaning he intends.
(c) A form implies uniformity. All proposals may then be considered on precisely the same basis. It would be manifestly impossible, for instance, to compare two bids for a piece of work, one of which was unconditional, while the other contained propositions to use different material than was specified, or proposed a longer time in which to finish, etc.* Such a comparison must not infrequently be made by a body of men who are not experts in either engineering or finance, and it is desirable that the proposals be submitted in such way that the comparison shall not be a difficult one.
The practice of binding the proposal sheet with the specifications and other papers is to be preferred to that of issuing it as a separate document.
* Bids not made out on the form or those in which conditions have been introduced or struck out are called “informal” bids. Unless a very good reason exists for their consideration these are generally ignored. An alternative bid, unless duly provided for, would be informal, but might lead to a readvertisement.
16. Essentials of Proposal. — The following are the statements which it is desirable to include in a proposal.
(a) Offer to do the work at stipulated price or prices and on terms proposed.
As previously stated, this is the essence of the proposal. Space should be left so that each price may be expressed both in words and in figures. Many awkward situations have arisen in this connection owing to real or avowed blunders on the part of a bidder, such as writing dollars for cents or vice versa, misplacing the decimal point, etc. The Engineer should so arrange the wording and the blank spaces as to reduce the probability of such mistakes to a minimum.
(6) Declaration that no fraud or collusion exists.
While a statement that he was acting honestly, made over his own signature by a rogue, would have no moral or legal weight, it is common practice to require of each bidder that he shall state in his bid that his offer is made in good faith and without collusion or fraud. This is designed to discourage:
(i) The pooling of bids. A, B, C and D found that they were to be the only bidders on a piece of work fairly worth $1000. By prearrangement they submitted bids ranging from A’s of $1800 to D's of $2000, and after the contract had been awarded to A he donated $150 to each of the others and still cleared $350 himself, over and above a legitimate profit. (Could B, C and D collect their share if A refused to pay it?)
(ii) Straw bids. A firm may, through its employees, and with attempt to deceive, submit more than one bid.
(iii) Illegal or improper connection between the bidder or some of his subcontractors and certain public employees. This would of course apply only to public works contracts, and is sometimes specifically mentioned in the proposal. (c) Plans understood and locality examined.
The Contractor may, after his proposal has been accepted, (perhaps even after the contract has been signed) claim to have misunderstood some important feature of the design. This would not constitute for him a legally valid excuse for not carry