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3 ways to improve your custom metal fabrication bids
By: Bob Buchanan
When you’re preparing for a custom metal fabrication project, the process of getting bids might seem like a giant pain in the you-know-what. But think about it this way: The bid process isn’t a hurdle. It’s the way you make sure you’re getting the right people and materials and processes for your job – so you can reduce risk for both you and your fabricator.
With that in mind, here are three ways to craft your bids more effectively:
1. Don’t overspec
When you put too much detail in your specs, you run the risk of putting too many constraints on your partner, limiting their ability to help you. That can lead to unnecessary costs and missed opportunities for improvement. For example, you might choose a metal or a finish that’s less than ideal for the environment where your project will be installed.
In a similar vein, don’t spec a process, technique, or material you aren’t familiar with. If you’re in that situation, we recommend noting in your specs that your fabricator should have experience with the process, technique, or material you’re considering – but don’t say that it must be used.
2. Ask for examples
A lot of people can say they have experience with a certain material or process – but not everyone can show it. Always ask for at least three examples that represent your type of project. This is the only way to make sure the metal fabricator you choose to work with is experienced in the same types of projects you plan to complete.
3. Use a coupon to eliminate subjectivity
When you’re bidding a job, it can be difficult to define exactly what you expect. There are a lot of things you can put in writing, like specific materials or techniques. But things like appearance can be hard to quantify.
That’s why we recommend using a welding coupon to ensure you get the results you expect. We use a similar process for painting. And think BIG. A little paint chip isn’t enough. Paint a piece at least 1 foot square that meets your expectations. Then cut it in half, sign it, and date it. This process can help you avoid misunderstandings and choose a fabricator with the right expertise to complete your project.