What are Construction Tenders?

Whenever the public sector has a requirement for construction related services, worth over £10,000 for central government agencies and £25,000 for the wider public sector, they are required to publicly advertise these contracts and encourage businesses to compete for the work.

This process is referred to as publishing an ‘Invitation to Tender’ or ‘ITT’, and the associated documents have become more commonly known as ‘Tenders’.

On this page you will find details of procurement procedures, the contract bidding process, and why you should do business with the public sector.

What is involved in bidding for construction tenders?

To bid for and win construction contracts, you will have to work through the following 5 stages.

Prior Information Stage (PIN)

A Prior Information Notice (PIN) is not a tender but serves as notice that a contract will soon be published. There are two main uses for a PIN - to give suppliers time to prepare for the upcoming contract or to engage with the market and ensure the procurement will fully address their requirements.

Selection Stage

The qualification stage is not a feature of every tender, however many construction opportunities will require some form of pre-qualification to generate a shortlist of the most suitable suppliers. The selection criteria that will be used to qualify bidders will be included within the notice, typically focusing on areas such as financial stability, health and safety, quality management and social value.

This stage may be referred to as a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ), Standard Selection Questionnaire (SSQ) or Selection Questionnaire (SQ).

You may also see references to PAS91, which is a pre-qualification questionnaire designed specifically for construction requirements. As the questions are standardised, it offers you the benefit of being able to reuse answers. Some questions can also be skipped if you hold the relevant accreditations, such as: ISO 9001, ISO 14001, PAS 1192 and OHSAS 18001.

Invitation to tender (ITT) Stage

If you have been shortlisted from the Selection Stage, you will be notified with an ITT. If there was no Selection Stage, the buyer is using an open procedure and any supplier may bid for the tender – the notice itself serves as the ITT.

At this stage all the documentation and requirements will have been made available to you, and standard documentation you can expect are:

  • Instructions – details of the contract, timescales and submission requirements – expect to include proof of accreditation, case studies, and social value plans.
  • The specification or service requirement - a detailed breakdown of what the buyer is looking to purchase.
  • The tender response document (technical response) – this contains the questions that you will have to answer and be scored against.
  • The pricing response document – a document to provide details of costs and proposed payment profile.

Evaluation Stage

The evaluation stage considers several factors to both determine your eligibility and your suitability for the contract. The evaluation will consider:

  • Do you meet the eligibility criteria – if you have been shortlisted, this will have already been addressed.
  • Are there any grounds for exclusion – is there anything that might prevent you from being able to deliver the contract?
  • Have you completed all of the requirements – are there any missing questions or documents?
  • Technical and price evaluation – the quality of your responses and pricing will be compared to the other bidders. A detailed breakdown of how this is evaluated can be found in ‘How to tender for construction contracts’.

Award Stage

Once the evaluation has been completed, the supplier with the highest overall score will be offered a contract from the work. If you are the winning supplier, it would be worthwhile to keep a record of the responses provided and use them to help shape future proposals.

It is also at this stage that Contract Award Notices get published. These are summaries of the procurement, detailing requirements, process, number of tenders received, and the winners of the contract. For high value contracts this is mandatory, but for low value notices it is not mandatory and very few of these are ever published.

How do I bid for construction tenders?

While the terminology and requirements may differ from tender to tender, the contract bidding process remains the same. We have simplified this approach to a ‘9 step tender writing process’.

  • Evaluate the tender and decide if it’s a ‘Go’ or ‘No Go’.
  • Review and deconstruct the information made available to you.
  • Create a bid plan detailing how and when you will prepare your responses.
  • Identify your win themes and build a strategy on top of these.
  • Plan your answers by creating headings and bullet points.
  • Develop your answer plan further by adding greater detail and lists of everything needed for the responses.
  • Answer the questions using your completed answer plan.
  • Proof and review your responses, ensuring accuracy and that nothing has been overlooked.
  • Ensure you have time allocated to familiarise yourself with the submission process.

A detailed breakdown of what is involved within each of these steps can be found in our post ‘The 9 step tender writing process’.

Why should I bid for construction tenders?

On average the UK Government spends £292 billion a year, more than a third of all public spending, on procuring goods, works and services from external suppliers. This money generates over 50,000 new business opportunities a year – 34% of which are for the construction industry. Apart from creating a significant number of opportunities for the industry, the public sector is also the fairest when it comes to awarding work. As the public sector relies on public funding to make decisions, they are required to ensure their financial decisions are made respectfully, encourage free and open competition, achieve best value for money, and ultimately benefit the public.

What does this mean for you?

  • All contracts must be made public and accessible to all relevant suppliers.
  • The UK Government aims to award 33% of all tenders to SMEs
  • All invoices paid within 30 days
  • Transparent tendering processes
  • Contracting authorities must use a range of criteria other than cost to award work
  • The sector is also continuously working to improve processes to make things easier and more accessible. The Construction Playbook is a great example of changes made by the government to improve how the public sector works with suppliers.

For greater detail on the benefits of working with the public sector, please see our article ‘6 reasons why you should do business with the Public Sector’

How do I find construction tenders?

There are thousands of portals through which public bodies can publish their notices, and it would take a significant amount of time and effort to try and locate every opportunity relevant to your business.

Tenders Direct eliminates your need to search for tenders by collating every construction notice from the UK and ROI, as well applicable opportunities from the OJEU, in one place. We will alert you whenever relevant opportunities have been published, and because of our unique service - we guarantee you will never miss a public sector notice.

Request a complimentary Construction Industry Market overview to discover all the opportunities you could be bidding for.

How do I win construction tenders?

If you would like a chance of securing work in the public sector, whether it be outright or as part of a framework or DPS, then you need to know how your bid will be evaluated.

Visit our page How to tender for construction contracts for detailed information about the evaluation process, and advice to improve the quality of your proposals.