Construction bidding: how to win subcontractor tenders

28 October 2020

How to bid on construction projects?

To bid for construction work, subcontractors must submit a tender to be considered for the job. 

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

Do your research before submitting your tender response

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

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

The Construction Tender Process: A Guide

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.

How do I receive invitations to tender?

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.

 What is included in an invitation to tender?

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 you need to include in your proposal.

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.  

What to include in your quote

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!

For more info check out our article on How to prepare a quote for construction work.

Step 3 – Submitting your quote

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 the bids

As the contractor reviews submissions they may conduct interviews during this period to go through any specific details of a bid 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 which tender bid 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 of your bid, 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. 


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.