Why a negotiated tender is the best way to quote a high end residential project?

A negotiated tender is a transparent collaboration between a specialist builder, an architect and you the client. The builder is selected at the start of the design process for their reputation and experience based on the specific type of project. They will then work with you and the architect to ensure the best possible outcome.   The builder’s main role through the early stages, is to ensure that the creative designs are buildable for your budget and to advise you about the building options at each design stage.


By using a negotiated tender, you will avoid all the problems of a traditional tender system and you will gain the considerable advantages of team work.  The specialist builder will bring to the table his wealth of knowledge and experience as well as that of all his specialist tradesmen and contractors. This allows the early integration of services and systems such as air conditioning, plumbing infrastructure, hot water system, glazing systems etc. into the design drawings and specifications. This is often not the case when a builder is not actively involved during the design process which results in additional costs and time delays later on during the building process. I have personally experienced numerous projects being delayed several weeks at lock up stage because the proposed air conditioning system cannot be installed due to incompatible design details. These design and specification problems can and should be avoided if a specialist builder is involved in the design process.


The contribution of the builder to the design process can be summed up by one of my favourite words “buildability”.  It means, “an assessment of how practical and cost effective a design is” or “the integration of the thinking with the doing”. The biggest benefit of buildability is time and cost saving and the earlier it can be integrated into the design, the greater the potential savings. For example, there is always several different ways for the structural engineer to design and specify the structural fabric of a building. However, the buildability of the different structural options can vary greatly and can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars to the overall building cost.


In a negotiated tender, the builder is usually paid as a consultant.  He or she is therefore fully engaged and able to give his total focus and depth of knowledge and is respected as an expert by you and the architect. This system allows you and the team to work closely together and most importantly, well before you need to sign a building contract. So, when the time comes to make that huge commitment you are confident that you have selected the right builder.


The only downside for the builder is that a negotiated tender greatly lengthens the life cycle of a project by up to one year and takes up a considerable amount of their time.  However, I believe this investment by the builder is well and truly worth it, given the vast difference it makes to the enjoyment and certainty of everyone involved. The enormous benefits of this team work approach can be best summed up by architect, Mimi Davey from Davey Architecture Studio, whom I have worked closely with for 20 years. “David shows great interest in every project and client, his attention to detail is paramount throughout the whole project.  He understands the architectural intent and clients desires, bringing a quality to the build you can not only see, but also tangibly feel”.

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