So you’re keen to get on the government’s construction books?

It’s a pretty popular choice, particularly as construction is often used as a lever to boost the economy.

Most of the time it’s head contractors who take on the big government commercial construction projects. Through the tender process they’ll engage with subbies and suppliers to help get an idea of how much it’s all going to cost.

Usually through the construction tender process, you, as a subbie, may be required to submit a construction quote to the Head Contractor. However, you can still get on the government’s radar as a subbie directly. 

Government commercial construction jobs can be a challenge to win, but once you’ve got the experience and foot in the door (formally through their processes too) you’ll be loving your job even more!

We’ll take you through some of the state level registers and the federal government to help you get that foot in the door. 

Australian Federal Government

First cab off the rank is the Australian suppliers register. This register promotes different products and services to buyers from overseas through the Austrade website. 

Applying for the Austrade register itself is relatively straight forward for the first touch point. 

The federal government’s criteria is quite specific. Before you apply, ask yourself the below. 

  • Do I have an Australian Business Number (ABN)?
  • Is Australia my main place of business?
  • Are management committed to becoming an exporter and willing to develop our exportation business?
  • Do we have the financial resources or ability to source specifically for expiration? 
  • Do we have the budget to potentially travel to international markets?
  • Do we have a growth strategy?
  • Do we have marketing materials such as a website, and the ability to customise for markets?
  • Do we have the capacity to build supply capability?

If you think you tick all of these boxes and are confident, we recommend applying to the Australian Suppliers Directory

Once you’ve applied, your application will be reviewed and someone will likely be in touch to gather more information to help them make a decision.

Victoria Government

The Victorian Government has a Construction Supplier Register for commercial construction projects. The Constructions Supplier Register is a pre-qualification scheme, open to anyone who offers construction work and/or services. If you want government jobs, you need to be on this register!

Each supplier on the register has been classified as having the necessary skills and expertise, as well as financial capabilities and management systems needed to be involved in a Victorian Government construction project. 

In Victoria, there are two main categories:

  • Suppliers of construction work – builders
  • Suppliers of construction related services – engineers, architects etc.

There is also now a third category to allow smaller businesses to get in the door. This category is for low value works of under $500,000 including GST. 

The application process can be lengthy, but luckily the Victorian Government has given you pretty much everything you could possibly need to know before applying, including things like eligibility criteria. 

You can check out the pre-application process here.

Queensland Government

The Queensland Government has a few different methods of procurement. 

They use several methods such as:

  • Ad hoc purchasing
  • Open tender
  • Selective tender
  • Limited tender
  • List of preferred suppliers
  • Standing offer arrangements (SOAs).

We won’t go through all of these, but you can check them out on the Business Queensland website. 

It’s a little more difficult to track down the exact information you want on the Queensland Government website (it’s the government though, so are we surprised?). Your first bet is to check out the supply to Queensland Government page.

Usually there will be some form of tender process to complete to get the bigger jobs. You can also check out the supplying for buying categories and make sure you fulfil all the ethical requirements for supplying to the government before you take any further steps.

Once you’ve got all the information you need through exploration of their site, we recommend applying to the Queensland Government Supplier list.

New South Wales Government

In NSW, their process is a little more laid out in terms of what they expect. 

The NSW Government have five procurement objectives:

  • Value for money
  • Promoting competition
  • Easy to do business
  • Innovation
  • Economic development, social outcomes and sustainability.

These objectives allow a diverse range of suppliers to get in front of the government regardless of their size. 

There are also particular obligations and responsibilities that you need to meet to become a supplier (as you would expect).

The NSW Government purchases a range of contracts and schemes either as a whole-of-government or agency-specific. 

They also look at supporting small to medium businesses, including regional businesses. There’s also a focus on buying from Aboriginal business and Australian disability enterprises as well to ensure equal opportunity. 

Before you sign up, it’s worth checking out the information the NSW Government has on supplying to government

To get on the supplier list, you need to sign up here.  Once you’re on the supplier list, anyone will be able to search you on the supplier list, which is accessible to the public as well. 

Western Australia Government

The Western Australia Government makes purchases a few different ways:

  • Direct purchase
  • Verbal quotation
  • Written quotation
  • Open tender.

The method is usually selected by the particular agency looking to source the supplier. There are a few different rules to each method of purchase, for example, verbal quotes can be requested for works up to $50,000 including GST.

Due to the high Aboriginal and Indignous population in WA, the Western Australia Government

has a big focus on working with Aboriginal business, as well as businesses who employ Aboriginal and Indigenous workers. 

Businesses can supply either goods and services, community services and works-related services to the Western Australia Government. 

The Western Australia Government has put a short, brief guide together for suppliers who wish to supply goods and services here.

The go-to point if you wish to get in front of them is to register your business as a supplier through Tenders WA. Tenders WA is used to source all suppliers for government works. 

Occasionally they may use newspapers and websites, however your best bet is to get yourself onto Tenders WA.

Hopefully these insights and resources help you to figure out next steps. It can be a bit daunting navigating the government sites when it comes to procurement so have a dig and don’t hesitate to reach out to them when you have queries. 

Don’t forget to check out our other articles as well. It can’t hurt to brush up on how to choose construction tenders and how to bid on commercial construction tenders either!

Working as a subbie on larger scale projects that have a tendering process can be a little overwhelming.

Subcontractor tenders are relatively straight forward for the most part as it usually requires submitting a quote or estimate.

We’ve got a number of benefits for our subscribed members when it comes to finding tenders and builder details. EstimateOne is designed to help you out in finding your next construction tender.

Why do you need to respond to tenders?

We won’t get into the nitty gritty of what a tender is (because we’ve already done it here) because at this point you’re ready to submit your tender response, quote or estimate. 

There are always head contractors looking for subcontractor quotes everyday and while you may not always get the job, getting in front of the head contractors more regularly and making a good impression is how you win in the end.

Using our notice board

If you haven’t already used EstimateOne before, you’re in for a treat. We’ve made the tender filtering and organisation process so much easier for you. 

We’ve got all subbies covered in every imaginable trade from carpentry, swimming pools, electrical, metalwork, asbestos removal, all the way to caulking and more. You name it, we’ve got you covered. 

Work in a niche trade? We’ve got you sorted as well. Just type in your trade in the search bar and we’ll show you every project where it’s been mentioned within the documentation.

We’re here to give you the opportunity to hone in on your niche and sell yourself to the guys that matter (the head contractors with the big dollar jobs)! 

So what are we looking at here you ask? Well, below is a snapshot of what your notice board looks like once you have a full membership with us. Looks good right?

Up top, you can click through the tabs to look at tenders, invitations and requests, quotes, watchlist, directory, team and of course your settings. Pretty intuitive once you’re in there.

Then, that wonderful list of jobs below is where you can see the tenders. As a member, you’ll have access to all open, awarded and closed tenders. 

Tender/project filtering

We’ve liaised with every possible person when it comes to tenders to really give you exactly what you need in one place.

Below you’ll see more of a narrowed filter option on your notice board.

Here, you can do everything from searching by budget, trade, distance (including from your office or simply state or national), category, when it was awarded and whether it has documents available (just hit more filters).

Once you have the list in front of you, you can also play around with the below toggles to get what you need. 

Perhaps you want the jobs where quotes are due soon? In that instance, you would toggle the Quote Due heading to see which head contractors have their tender responses due the soonest and who would may be ready for your quote ASAP. 

Organising your work

The interest filter is where the fun happens. If you feel like you’re overwhelmed with all the quotes and projects flying around, your life is about to get ten times easier. 

When you are looking through tenders, simply tag the project as one of the interest levels from not interested to quoting and more, and you’ll then be able to filter these later on (thank us later when you’re rolling in jobs).

Think of it as your own digital book of jobs where all the paperwork, details and everything have been organised in one place for you.

Honestly, we could sit here all day and tell you the great features and access to builders we can provide to you, but we recommend you sign up for a free subbie account first to check it out for yourself.

Tap into your networks

As a subbie, you always need to think of your network with every interaction you have to find your next construction job. You’ll see once you are signed up that we do have a builder’s directory with all the details of most head contractors across Australia.

Even though we do have that for you to tap into when you need, nothing beats the personal relationships you build over time with head contractors.

You should always find your niche, that is, where you fit into the wider industry. What’s your specialty? What makes you better than the rest?

Then, your job is to sell that, and sell it hard. Your enthusiasm and strong knowledge of your specialty will impress the right builders and keep you in mind for future. 

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep in touch with them along the way. In this case it is both about what you know and who you know.

We recommend checking out our articles on our insights blog tips for quotes, tender processes and more to help you with your next job.

As a subbie, you’ll most likely be well versed in quoting a construction job.

However, sometimes a much larger job will come along that you have to really put in the hard yards to win over the heart of the head contractor who is tendering for a job. 

You probably have what a tender is down pat, so we’ve got some tips for putting together your best quote yet.

What is a quote?

First of all, what is a quote? Quotes and estimates are sometimes used interchangeably.

A construction quote is a formal document of pricing that a business needs to be paid in order to fulfil the job requirements. 

When it comes to a quote versus an estimate, an estimate differs only slightly from this in that it is more of an idea of how much the materials, labour and other parts may cost. 

Sometimes there might be some variables that may make it difficult for a business to give an accurate quote, therefore an estimate is your best best until you get clarification.

When would I be required to quote?

At all different stages of construction tenders, you may be required to provide a quote. 

Head contractors are always looking for large tender jobs. Depending on your past experience and relationships you may get approached to quote a construction job for a subcontractor tender

Otherwise, you may have to reach out to the head contractor, sell yourself and provide a great quote for your trade part of the tender. 

After a contract is awarded, head contractors will also typically circle back to you to try negotiate the price down further (or as they like to call it, “sharpen your pencils”). This is where you’ll need to remain competitive with your pricing as well and will likely keep you in their good books for future. Be smart with your quoting throughout the process! 

What should I include in my construction quote?

Construction quotes can be pretty straight forward if you know how to write a quote. 

There’s a few key things you want to make sure you include so that it’s the most accurate representation of what you have to offer.

Administrative details

Considering the quote might be quite long, it’s always worth making it extra clear what your overall figure is. We’re talking big, bold text. Make sure it’s clear what the tax excluded and tax included pricing is. 

Don’t make the head contractor suffer by reading all the small font line items. 

You’ll also need to include the obvious details of both parties, what project it’s for any other classic administrative details.

Scope of works

Here’s where the hard work goes. You’ll need to show the head contractor what is and isn’t included. This is applicable to both the labour and materials.

Inclusions can sometimes include:

  • Labour and apprentice costs (as well as how they’re calculated)
  • Transport to and from the job
  • Call out fees or public holiday rates

When it comes to exclusions, you want to be super clear as well. This can vary but may include things like:

  • Fixing damage to finished work (that was not done by you)
  • Hazardous material removal of materials you encounter
  • Working height restrictions

Depending on your trade, there is a wide range of things that could fill these lists out. Just make sure you’re trying to include as much as you sensibly can.

Materials

There’s a few tricks of the trade when quoting out materials. Sometimes a head contractor will name a specific brand in the documentation that you’ll need to quote installation and labour against. Other times, you may have to provide options. 

The best way you can do this is by clearly listing each material requirement and installation as separate line items (the contractor will love you for this).

When you are listing out materials, it’s important to be as clear as possible, particularly when it comes to allowances. 

Sometimes the head contractor or other people working on the project might change a design so you’ll need to accommodate any changes and be flexible with your quoting. 

Head contractors like to see that you’ve clearly allowed for variation in product or other elements. You should do this by including measurements and clear descriptions.

A good example when it comes to flooring would be:

  • Timber Flooring [Good]: Allowance for equivalent 190x19mm timber board, floating install in lieu of direct stuck.
  • Timber Flooring [Bad]: Allowance for alternative timber.

Or for carpentry:

  • Carpentry [Good]: Allowance for 62mm MDF skirting in lieu of 100mm specified
  • Carpentry [Bad]: Allowance for skirting

It’s all about clarifying the small parts of the job so that the head contractor has everything up front, clear and ready to go should you be selected. 
If you’re looking for more tips on subcontractor tenders, responses and general industry knowledge, don’t forget to check out our other articles on our Insights blog.

When it comes to bidding for construction tenders, there’s so many things to consider when completing a tender response. 

Think of tender responses like exams. You need to be prepared, answer concisely and persuasively. Your tender response will always need to show your unique value proposition and tick all the boxes the contractor has set. 

In the meantime, we’ve put together a more specific guide on how to bid for construction tenders.

Step 1 – Invitation to tender

Before you can even start thinking about how to write a tender response, you need a tender to bid for. 

Tenders won’t always fall into your lap. It’s important to always network, network, network (we cover this in our article How to find your next construction job as a subcontractor).

The best way to get invitations to tender or get a whiff of any work that’s out there is to keep these networks alive!

Some builders we have on EstimateOne maintain an address book of subbies (who are, of course, also on EstimateOne). If you request documents from a head contractor and introduce yourself, you’re likely to be added to that address book.

When it comes to the tender, typically a contractor will send out invitations to tender which will likely include the:

  • Scope of work
  • Time of completion
  • Pre-qualification details

Depending on the tender, there is usually a lot more information to help you out. Head contractors will usually package this out to specific trades so you receive the relevant information. 

This is where you draw all the information you need in order to make a bid for a construction project.

Step 2 – The quote

Writing a quote isn’t a simple task. Some businesses get professional bid writers to help them out. We’re here to give you confidence in writing it yourself with tips for your construction bid.  

Things you could include in your response:

  • Accurate details of your business
  • Background and capabilities of your business 
  • Clear responses to each question
  • Schedule of rates
  • Timelines
  • References
  • Terms and conditions 

Sometimes it’s even worth putting in information about the staff who you would select to work on the project. Some people like to know who specifically will be working and their experience.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to answer the questions or address any specific requests made by the contractor. If you’re unsure of anything, you can always ask questions for clarification.

After you’ve completed your response you should review, review, review.

Once you’re completely happy with your response, it’s time to submit!

Step 3 – Submission

Once you’ve reached the submission stage it’s important to call out what you have and haven’t quoted. This will ensure that everything is super clear with what you will and won’t be doing. 

The actual submission is pretty quick (in terms of your input). Once you’ve submitted your proposal by the deadline, contractors will compile all responses and start reviewing them. 

So long as you’ve met their requirements and provided an immaculate document, you’ll be in with a chance. 

A lot of turning points for contractors are the pricing structures, so without putting yourself in a bad position, do your absolute best on pricing. This will give you a competitive advantage over others. 

It’s always worth chasing up the head contractor as well to show your interest (exactly like a job interview).

Step 4 – Contractor reviews applications

As the contractor reviews submissions they may conduct interviews during this period to go through any specific details they want to expand on. 

Contractors will work off their own timelines so if you have the hunger for more work, use this time to search for other tenders and get cracking on some other responses to maximise your opportunities. 

Check out our subbie section for some relevant tenders out there at the moment for your trade. 

Step 5 – Final decision, negotiation and contracts

Once the contractor has made the final decision on who they’d like to select, this is where you come in and start negotiations. 

Obviously there’s a huge amount of moving parts in a project so pending on changes or any specifics, there’s still opportunity for you to negotiate different elements, without veering too far from your proposal (you know, the one that won you the job). 

Once you nut out all this information with the contractor you will reach the agreement phase. 

Remember…

In case that was a lot of information to absorb, we’ll recap for you. 

For your tender responses, always consider the below points:

  • The design and aesthetic of the response
  • Address the selection criteria
  • Clear, concise language
  • Spelling and grammar perfected
  • Your unique selling point
  • Competitive pricing
  • Understand the contractor
  • Understand the project inside out

Keep an eye on our blog as we’ve got all types of information to help you out through every part of a tender process, whether it be before, during or after. 

The tendering process in Australia can vary depending on the project, but for the most part, it is similar across the board. 

What is a tender you ask? Well, here’s something we prepared earlier that explains everything you need to know about tenders

But to recap, tenders are a formal process for businesses, both head contractor, subcontractors and more, to submit responses to a request for work. This can be construction related (which is why we’re here) all the way through to corporate contracts.

The Tender Process

The tender process itself is never easy. You also don’t get paid for the quote and tendering process, but that’s okay, it can be well worth it in the end.

The process for head contractors and subcontractors is basically the same, it’s just between different parties.

We’ll break down the specifics you need to know as a subbie.

Step 1 – Head contractors are invited to tender

The very first stage of the tendering process involved an invitation to tender, usually between the client and the head contractor. They will get all the documentation that outlines what they need to respond to.

This process typically follows after the completion of a pre-qualification questionnaire and sometimes a pre-tender interview. 

These steps (yes, steps within a step – tendering isn’t quick) help the client create a shortlist of potential contractors that would be suitable for the project. 

Invitation to tender can include different parts such as:

  • Letter of invitation to tender
  • Form of the tender
  • Any preliminaries relevant to subbies
  • Form of the contract itself, contract conditions any any amendments
  • Tender pricing documents
  • Drawing schedules
  • Design drawings 
  • Specifications

The head contractor will usually break down tender documents into different packages (still with only one main contract) so that they then can be passed onto the suitable subbies responsible for each part of the project. 

Step 2 – Request for quotation (RFQ)

Once the head contractor has all their ducks in a row, this is where you’ll start to get involved as a subbie. 

Head contractors will split all the documentation into trade packages and use notice boards like ours to send out invitations to subbies. 

Some head contractors might also put together a bill of quantities (BOQ), which will outline what’s needed and how much.

If you receive this, quote directly against this.

Step 3 – Clarification

This step is where any and all questions are asked by all parties. This is a great way for the head contractor and the subcontractors to foresee any potential problems or opportunities in executing the project.

During this phase, there also may be changes made to architectural drawings due to errors or pitfalls pointed out by the quoting subbies who know their trade inside out.

These usually result in an amendment of the tender documentation and can also result in an extension of the quoting period at times. It’s likely during this process you receive multiple notices of addenda. 

Any amendments will need to be circulated to all parties involved so that everyone is on the same page. Don’t worry though, each conversation is confidential; they won’t be giving away any of your unique proposals or advantages to other potential subbies.

Step 4 – Submission

This step seems pretty obvious by the heading right? This is the part where you submit your quote. Usually the builder will be looking for 3-5 quotes per trade package.

The head contractor will set the date for all subbies to submit and you’ll need to meet it. 

If there’s one thing we recommend you focus on quite a bit, it’s your pricing – this is where you’ll have the most competitive advantage.

However, there is of course all different parts that you will be assessed on. 

Things you can include in your response:

  • Business details
  • Schedule of rates
  • Demonstration of capabilities
  • Timelines 
  • Resources and materials
  • Prior experience as a business
  • Terms and conditions

All tenders and quotes are different so this is by no means an extensive list. We do recommend you check out our guide to bidding for construction tenders so that you can work towards your best tender response possible.

Step 5 – Head contractor submits

You guessed it. This is when the head contractor collates all the information and subcontractor quotes and submits to the client. 

Sometimes they may come back to certain trades if they don’t feel like they have covered the trade enough. They will then quote to the client based on what they’ve learned from the various trade quotes along the way. Typically a builder will look for between 3-5 quotes to ensure they’ve got a good idea of how much each package will cost.

Step 6 – Qualification and settlement

As we get towards the end, the process doesn’t become shorter itself but the explanations do because most of the hard yards have been covered.

At this point, we reach the point where the client will assess the tender responses, weigh up pros and cons, and as always, compare costs. 

This is where they will ultimately assess and select the winning head contractor. From there, any negotiations and contracting will occur.

Step 7 – Subbie engagement

Last but not least, this is where the estimating team within the head contractors business will handover to the delivery team. 

The delivery team (including the contract administrators) will look at quotes provided by subbies and their personal contractors and will pick the right subbie for the job. 

At this point, it’s not unheard of that a head contractor may ask you to ‘sharpen your pencil’ (aka lower your price). 

If you’ve reached this point it’s fair to say you’re competitive in market but there’s always room for improvement!

Quick tips for RFQs

The lengthy process that is the tendering and quoting process is also heavily reliant on your response. Your quote is everything and you need to put your best foot forward in all possible ways. 

We could go on forever about how to master the tender response process (which we do, in our guide to bidding for construction tenders).

Don’t forget to also check out our subbies section to keep up to date with live tenders now. 

You can also upgrade and get access to awarded contract information so you can track projects all the way through after they are won by a head contractor. This way you can reach out when your trade is likely to be needed.

If you’re here, it probably means you’re fairly aware of what a tender is, how the process works and how to create your best tender response. 

As a subbie, if you’re looking to put in a quote for a job, you’re going to want to keep an eye on the project across its lifetime (even before you’re needed). 

At the end of the day, you want to be talking to the head contractor that is in charge of the build. 

What is awarded contract information?

The contract for a project will be awarded just a few short weeks after a tender closes. Everything after this can remain a mystery for some. 

At EstimateOne, we give subbies who subscribe to our upgraded options the ability to follow a tender past the awarded phase.

Why is this information important to me?

Usually during the final stages of a tender, head contractors will have a team who will package out different trades to look to get roughly 3-5 quotes for each trade. 

Head contractors will use these prices to put together their quote to the client – however, at this point no subbies have been given the job yet. 

Once a project is awarded, the head contractor’s estimating team will hand over the project to the contract administrators who will pick the subbies for the job.

Your focus here needs to be knocking their socks off with a great quote at tender time with great pricing (competitive pricing – but don’t undersell yourself). Estimators will recommend subbies to the contract administrators, but you’re going to want to follow up with them once the tender is awarded.

Even if they don’t put out a request for quote, if you keep an eye on the project closely, you can reach out to the builder directly and try to get in front of them for consideration. 

If you sign up to EstimateOne you’ll also get alerts when a project is awarded to a builder (less checking in constantly – you have better things to do) plus all the key contacts you could need for head builders. We’re here to help everyone and that includes our subbies in the construction industry!

Sometimes head contractors don’t even consider subbies until they need them 12-24 months down the track, particularly finishing trades like plastering and painting. 

Our Awarded Contract Information system can let you filter contracts that have closed in a certain period of time so that they are more relevant to you for your trade. 

Pro tips:

  • Get your foot in early! It is favourable if you pop up during the tender phase because it shows you’re keen to work with them. 
  • Quote your best but don’t undersell yourself.
  • Keep a regular eye on our Awarded Contracts hub for all the opportunities suited to you.

As a subcontractor, you obviously work for yourself (the ultimate dream). There are, however, pros and cons to working for yourself, but mostly pros, if you set yourself up right.

The pros of being a subbie are the obvious things:

  • working for yourself
  • you make the decisions
  • charge your own rates (while still being realistic)
  • you don’t have to report to anyone

You just need to know how to find construction work to really make it worth it.   

When it comes to the cons (if you really want to call them that) is that you don’t accumulate paid leave and you have to manage your own tax, super and accounts. You also don’t get paid to quote jobs so there’s a lot of leg work involved. But being your own boss and setting your own rates, that heavily outweighs this right?

The key to being a successful contractor is to build a great reputation and a big network to back you. Your main focus is to learn how to find subcontracting jobs to keep the workflow happening.

Your network shouldn’t just be limited to other subcontractors but head contractors, sometimes client direct and basically anyone with extended connections to help you out. 

Don’t stress though, we’ve got a few tips for subcontractors when it comes to finding construction jobs.

Where do I find subcontracting jobs?

Check out notice boards

Your first go-to will always be the notice boards. As you’d already know (because you’re on our website), that’s one of our core purposes, to provide you with endless jobs to look through. 

If you check out our tender notice board you’ll see you can search all different tenders by location and every trade specialty you could think of.  You can also set up job alerts for the right jobs to hit your inbox. 

But we’re not just here to plug our own noticeboard, we’re here to equip you with all the knowledge you need to really win those jobs and grow your business.

Notice boards are easily accessible on the internet or your subbie mates might know some good ways to find work too (we’ll talk about networking soon). 

It’s also worth jumping online to look at Facebook groups. Mostly there are groups designed to link up subbies for work when they need to fill some spots on a job but there’s always the potential to stumble across some work among the chatter so keep an eye out!

Network, network, network

As we all know, it’s not always what you know, but who you know. This couldn’t be any more true in the construction industry when it comes to finding a commercial construction job.

You should always try to strike up conversations where possible – always looking for that next job. 

Get to know everyone you can, whether they are other subbies on-site, head contractors and even sometimes you may interact with the clients who stroll through the sites. Make sure they remember you (in a good way)!

You can also directly reach out to contractors if you’re not currently on a job. If you have a profile with us, you can access our head contractor directory. From there, you can get their contact details and a list of their recent projects for reference. 

Keep in mind though, when reaching out to head contractors, remember that you are the master of your domain and have the power to provide expert advice on certain parts of a project. Use this as your ticket in to really give them a good impression of your skillset.

Industry associations

In the building industry, there are many different types of industry associations that you can join to gain many benefits. 

Industry associations provide you with specific advice around things like security of payments, contractual disputes (general advice, not legal advice) and so on. 

They can, however, also act as a connection with other subbies, whether it be through conferences or online forums. This is where your networking skills can come into play too. 

Associations like Master Builders Australia are a good starting point to check out. They represent the building and construction industry and are 32,000 members strong so you’re bound to make some connections.

A quick Google search though will give you a list of local industry associations that might be broader or more specific to your trade.

Let them come to you

While you can hunt down your own work, it’s always worth keeping in mind that you can influence how builders can naturally find your business on the internet especially. 

More often than not, contractors will vet subcontractors via good old Google. This means you need to set up a great website and practice good search engine optimisation (you might need to temporarily hire a digital marketing pro to help you out) so you can reach that first page of Google. 

You also need to make sure you have a good social media presence. Basically, use social media to communicate with everyone, with a focus on attracting new customers or contractors with work. 

Checking all of these channels is something contractors do regularly so it’s important to have a strong, professional presence. Just make sure you also have contact details easily available on your website and social media pages.

No matter what, you can always come back and check out our subbies notice board. We have jobs of all sizes, across all trades so you’re sure to find a tender that would be suited to you.

Don’t worry though, we can also help out with preparing responses for the construction tenders you want.

Things move quickly in commercial construction.

While an outsider might claim that a construction site opposite their house is moving at a glacial pace – those who need to be spec’d or spend their days defending their spec know that things move quickly. 

We’ve been lucky enough to talk to a range of characters in the construction industry over the last 10 years. One thing that’s been constant is the need for timely and accurate information.

That’s why we’ve launched our Consultant Details add-on. We give all the information a company who lives and dies by the spec could need. 

If you’d rather get a demo of the product – you can do so here

So how does it work?

Let’s say I supply CCTV cameras. One thing that would be part of my daily routine would be to type “CCTV” and a few different brand names into the EstimateOne search bar. This will search all the documents on EstimateOne for any mention of this phrase. 

The search isn’t just limited to products and brands. You can also try searching niche trades, materials, or even a competitor’s brand name. 

The list you’ll be shown is a list of all the projects that have architectural documents that contain the keyword you searched for. 

You can drill down into a project and check out the architects, engineers and the tendering builders. 

Each architect, engineer and builder have their own profile with all the jobs they’ve worked on. Currently our Consultant Details Directory has over 6,000 architect and engineer profiles.

Let’s say you were keen to see the potential work you could do with an architect. Head to their profile, type in some key words – be it your brand, product or a competitors brand – and we’ll give you a list of all the projects that the architect is involved in with those keywords. 

You can search for keywords within an architects profile

The Consultant Details add on is something we’ve worked on with the soul purpose on helping your sales and promotions team thrive. So if this sounds like the kind of info you and your team need – book a demo with us today.

Whether it be a commercial business park, residential estate or city high-rise, there are a pretty standard set of stakeholders in construction projects, all with their own responsibilities. 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell what those responsibilities are, especially when it comes to head contractors vs subcontractors.

At the very head of a commercial construction project though, is the client. Clients can come from any background from property development to corporate business. 

Depending on the project, they might put out a tender where they may be seeking one head contractor to take on the job to then outsource to subcontractors (the guys who do all the work).

The client will also typically allocate someone on their side to manage the project as a whole and liaise with the head contractor to make sure everything runs smoothly.  

Each stakeholder in a commercial construction project has its own roles and responsibilities. If you’re a subcontractor looking to transition from private residential jobs to the big league in commercial construction, you’ll need to know who does what. 

Client side project manager

Of course, at the very centre of the project is the client. On that side of the fence, you’ll have your client side project manager.

A client side project manager is chosen by the client and is the sole point of contact (to the client) for the head contractor on a construction project. Both the client side manager and the head contractor will liaise regularly to make sure all elements of the project are done right and on time. Their job is to make sure that everything is done in the client’s best interest.

More often than not, these guys are ex-head contractors so they know what they’re doing and what to expect. This person is responsible for tasks such as:

  • setting project goals and objectives (and make sure they’re being met)
  • preparing project schedules
  • control of project delivery, close and handover
  • liaising with all internal and external construction stakeholders 

Having a client side project manager makes it much easier to have one source of truth. The more people with their hands in the pie on the client’s side, the more confusion for the head contractor and the subbies below them.

This person is in charge of steering the ship so to speak.

Head contractors

Head contractors otherwise known as the head builder, are the on-site head honchos. Usually, the head contractor has been chosen as the construction contractor after a tender process. 

More often than not, it will be a commercial builder with a fair amount of projects under their belt.

After winning a tender, the head contractor is then responsible for sourcing all the subcontractors. The subcontractors then will often source suppliers to fulfil the work requirements. 

During the project, head contractors are responsible for all the work that isn’t part of the actual building itself, such as:

  • procurement of subcontractors
  • payment of subcontractors
  • daily liaison with subcontractors 
  • conduct safety inductions
  • oversee all the work that is done
  • compliance and OH&S
  • site surveying and engineering
  • waste management
  • provision of on-site services such as security, toilets etc.
  • If it’s a union site, ensure the terms of the EBA are met 

Head contractors are responsible for making sure everything is done right, safely and to the client’s satisfaction. 

Most head contractors who win the big jobs have done it many times before, so they will have pretty tight processes and knowledge of the ins and outs of a commercial construction project.

Subcontractors

Last but not least, subcontractors. Subbies might be lower on the food chain when it comes to a big construction project, but we all know who does all the hard labour right?

A lot of subcontractors start off in smaller private projects. Depending on your taste for success or money, it’s always worth dabbling in commercial projects that come about through tenders. 

Typically the head contractor will outsource a lot, if not all of the trades (subbies know their stuff better than anyone). 

These projects could be a new high-rise in the city or a brand new estate of residential townhouses. You’ve got plenty of options. It’s worth keeping an eye out on the construction tenders we have available for you to quote on. 

Sometimes you might also be asked to provide a quote for a project. If you’re unsure what is required for this, don’t worry, we can help equip you with the skills to prepare a quote for your next construction project.

The nominated subcontractors on a commercial construction process may have gone through a tender process themselves and cover everything from plumbing to security and communication systems.

As a subbie, you’ll need to:

  • Source suppliers
  • manage your own team
  • work without supervision
  • undertake OH&S and other inductions
  • comply with all processes and procedures in place

The head contractor heads the project and wil guide everyone in the right direction, but overall, you’re the master of your trade.

There are endless opportunities for a subcontractor to get their hands on a bigger job. It’s really just about getting yourself out there and in front of the head contractors more often.

Have a look at our article on improving your chances of winning a tender to make sure you put your best foot forward for the next tender.

It’s safe to say, paperwork is not the most thrilling part of any profession. Let’s be honest, writing quotes for tendering builders isn’t something you’d write home about.

You’re probably thinking though, what exactly is a tender and what do I need to do? Don’t stress, we have the answers.

A tender is a formal opportunity for businesses or suppliers to submit a written offer (tender response), including costs, timelines and more, to complete work set out by a client. The work can be for anything from a large scale construction project to provision of marketing services for a corporate brand. 

The most common tenders you will see will be construction tenders and commercial construction tenders. As no two jobs are the same, you can’t simply just copy and paste the same price from the last job. The thousands of moving parts in a construction project needs serious attention at every angle. 

Tender responses include the who, what, when, how and everything else in between. Meaning, yes, they do require a bit of extra work (that, unfortunately, isn’t paid), but it can be worth it in the end for that big payday.

Tender terminology

You’ll probably regularly see different terms are thrown around when it comes to tenders. 

Terms such as:

  • Request for Tender (RFT)
  • Request for Quote (RFQ)
  • Request for Proposals (RFP) 
  • Invitation to Offer (ITO)
  • Approach to Market (ATM)
  • Invitation to Respond (ITR)

All of these are similar in nature but for the most part, you’d be more likely to receive a Request for Tender or Request for Quote. 

You might even get an expression of interest (EOI) request before you receive an RFT or RFQ. An EOI is typically the first step in a multi-phase tender process, where you will be requested to express interest in a job set out by a client. 

Your response to an EOI can be similar to a tender response, but you’re not required to provide any costings at this point. The client also won’t be selecting the business to do the job at this point. 

Think of it as an audition process to show your businesses interest and capabilities to move to the next round.

What’s in a tender response?

When a client puts out a request for tender, they will provide the requirements of each supplier’s response (or at least as many requirements as they can).

Construction businesses are usually pretty good at providing you with all the information you need for tenders. Sometimes you won’t get much information from other clients though, so you’ll need to provide what you can, based on what they’ve given you. 

 At a minimum, your tender response would need to include:

  • Company background 
  • Company capabilities – why you?
  • Clear, no fluff answers to any questions
  • Schedule of rates
  • Timelines
  • Terms and conditions 

Sometimes it also helps to show the team that would be working on it and their experience as well. A lot of businesses these days like to know the professionals behind the job before they make a decision.

Everyone who responds to a tender will be marked against the same criteria. This is why you have to make your answers count. As always, practice makes perfect.

Once a supplier has been formally accepted with their – let’s call it – winning response, a contract is created. It’s not always a quick and easy process to put together a tender response but we’ve got all the tools (and tips) to help you write your best submission for the tenders you want.

Different types of tenders 

There are different tenders used across the globe, but the most common types of tenders in Australia are open, negotiated, selective, single-stage and multi-phase tenders.

Open tenders

Open tenders are the most common type of tenders for the construction and engineering industries. You’ll also see these a lot with government tenders, as they are legally required to go out to everyone.

Open tenders allow anyone to submit their response no matter how big or small, or new they are. It’s a great opportunity for emerging businesses to get their name out there. 

Given the tender is open to everyone, this tender process is by far the most competitive, meaning you have to have all your ducks in a row to be in the running.

Negotiated tender

Negotiated tenders occur when a client approaches a single supplier. The client would select this supplier based on previous relationships or their track-record with them. It usually helps them reduce costs too. 

This type of tender is quite handy for highly specialised projects or for extending an existing contract with that supplier (do your best and you’ll always get rewarded). Therefore, the negotiation process becomes much easier.

Most public-funded contracts will not use negotiated tendering due to the potential of ‘comfortable’ relationships that can develop, which can exclude other equally qualified suppliers in the process. That means, your connections probably won’t be able to help you get on a government tender panel, but we can.

Selective tender

A selective tender is similar to a single-stage tender. The client will send out a request for tender to multiple suppliers that they feel are suitable for the project. This could be their top five favourite construction businesses for a specialist or complex contract.

The only downfall to this type of tender is that smaller businesses are usually forgotten and not included in the process. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of work out there for you if you’re a smaller business.

Single-stage tender

The more traditional route taken by clients is the single-stage tender process. This method is usually called on when there is enough information available to them to calculate a realistic price before the process begins. 

An invitation to tender is then sent out to prospective suppliers, sometimes after pre-qualification work is done. From there, suppliers can submit their tender response for review and so begins the battle to win the job. 

Two-stage tender

Two-stage tenders, sometimes called multi-phase tenders, are when there is the early appointment of a business to a project before there is enough information for them to fully quote the job.

In Australia, this can also be referred to as early contractor involvement (ECI). It’s typically used by clients who might not have fully fleshed out their plan yet. 

For example, to save costs and get it right the first time, a developer may get a construction contractor in early to work with the architects to design the project within budget. Having all parties involved from the get-go means they reduce costs and time in the long run.

After early involvement, once you have everything you need, you’re in a position to offer them a fixed price for the remainder of the project.

There’s a lot of information you need to know for tenders. We know it can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time, but that’s why we’re here to give you expert advice and access to all the jobs you could imagine. 

If you’re a subbie looking for tenders or resources to help you write your tender responses, we’ve got you. Check out our subcontractor for some tips and tricks of the trade.