At Adobe Corp. we have always found it more productive to negotiate directly with owners rather than bid against other general contractors. We did, in fact, bid against other general contractors for high-end new construction and remodeling projects for many years. But we realized that no matter the project the same thing happened: the project was always over the owner’s budget, sometimes WAY over! And so the owner would pick one of the contractors who had bid on the project and start negotiating towards the owner’s budget goal in conjunction with the architect/designer. So it occurred to us to suggest to the designer/architects and owners that we try a different approach: instead of designing an entire project and getting to the end only to find out it is way over the owner’s budget, why not put a team together in the beginning that works towards the owner’s budget and design goals from the start? The owner could interview several contractors and decide which one they would like to work with based on the chemistry between them, the project histories of the contractor, references, etc., then start working with the contractor and designer as a team, a team with the owner’s goals as the objective.
The process has worked well. When the designer gets through with design development drawings he/she pauses and lets the contractor get some preliminary bids from major subcontractors and comes up with a preliminary budget for the project. Inevitably, adjustments in the design have to be made to bring the project within the owner’s budget. This is a good time for those adjustments instead of waiting until the final construction drawings to be completed. So the design is adjusted with the input of the contractor, the subcontractors, the designer and the owner and the designer can proceed to construction drawings. When they are complete the contractor bids them out to a list of trusted subcontractors and comes up with a final budget. This is a productive process; one that serves the clients best interests.