(b) The time within which the contractor must prepare his estimate is limited, and gener ally too much limited, so that he seldom has op portunity properly to investigate the conditions under which he is to bid.
(c) When ten men are to bid on one piece of work, it is manifestly unfortunate that each of the ten men should pay for an investigation which can as well be made by one; and yet it is seldom practicable for the bidders on a piece of work to combine and obtain all the information. For instance, in a job involving earth and rock work for foundations, unless the job is very large the owner rarely makes sufficient test borings to thoroughly determine the existing field condi tions; and yet the total cost of one investigation made by the owner would be very much less than the cost of all the investigations made by each contractor individually. The owner's point is that the successful contractor will make enough money to pay for the investigation; but it is al most never appreciated that when a contractor obtains a contract, he must make enough profit to pay for the investigation not only on that con tract but for all those on which he has been un successful as well; and the average of his bids must therefore be correspondingly higher than if it were the general practice among owners to furnish complete statistics when asking for bids.
The writer had occasion to bid on a large bridge for a municipality in West Virginia, on which almost no information from the munici pality was forthcoming. Each contractor made an investigation more or less thorough, and was obliged to furnish his own design. The result was that over fifty bids, fifty investigations, and fifty designs were submitted, ranging from a minimum of about $40,000 to a maximum of about $140,000 All bids were rejected; and the municipality, reinforced and greatly benefited by the discussion that arose, re-advertised for bids. It is needless to add that the author did not bid again; but the question is, who paid for all those estimates? (d) After bidding upon work under a cer tain architect whom he knows, and whose atti tude on certain clauses in his specifications he considers himself reasonably able to predict, the contractor may be confronted by a change of architects, and the new man may be more strict than the old. This is a danger more to be feared
in long contracts than in short ones. In the former case, it is likely to be a very serious mat ter, and frequently offsets the advantage of hav ing time thoroughly to organize and systematize the work.
Second—Obtain all available information be fore asking for bids, and furnish it to the con tractors.
3. The Man in the Field. In order to reduce costs in the field, it is necessary to make esti mates so as to know how the work is progressing. The field chief or superintendent frequently has to make estimates of the cost of work in pro gress.
1. The first and oldest form involves the de scribing, by means of plans and specifications, what is to be done, and a guarantee by the con tractor to perform all the work for a fixed con sideration. After the contract is signed, it is up to the contractor to get the work done, and the owner is supposed to have no responsibility beyond making the specified payments. The contractor assumes all risk, and meets all diffi culties whether foreseen or unforeseen.
2. In the second form of contract mentioned above—the Unit-Price—the contractor receives an established price per yard, per pound, per ton, etc., and the owner assumes responsibility for the quantity. Since changes in plan involv ing increase or decrease of the amount of work are usually an accompaniment of most contracts after the contracts have been signed, this type admits of more elasticity than the first for meet ing this condition.