Author: Jessica Harrison, published: August 27, 2021

3 Crucial Elements to Breaking Down a Bid

In a world of reviewing sub bids, comparing numbers, and trying to figure out what you are working with, it’s important to start with the basics so that it doesn’t end with scratching heads and wondering what project you are even looking at. The most important part of qualifying a bid is knowing if the bid is coming from a partner or just another subcontractor. Let’s break down how to tell them apart and some quick tips to get back to apples to apples. When it comes to breaking down the bid, it’s important to remember three key points for success.

3 Ways to Break Down a Bid

1) Choose a partner, not a subcontractor

A partner’s focus is to ensure you are successful- They strive to exceed expectations and understand the only way to achieve success, is to make you the hero. A partner is relationally, financially, and strategically invested in your project.

Relationally: Look at who has asked you questions. (Especially those who asked on time). Well-tuned, in-house estimating and preconstruction are so important! Having a dedicated preconstruction team shows commitment to quality and consistency. I think the construction industry agrees that you can’t be successful without quality preconstruction and your subcontractors can’t either. Choose a partner who brings resources to the table and wants to win with you!

Financially: A partner has skin in the game with you. Companies that can offer multiple scopes under the same contract have deep financial commitments to your project. They have dedicated double and triple the resources to comb over the fine details saving you from any surprises.

Strategically: From start to finish, are they aligned with your success? Are they accessible? Do they have a strong company structure and clear roles? Are they highly qualified? Partners should check all of these boxes.

2) Clarity equals quality

Clear as mud-Ever receive a bid that is just “clear as mud”? Not from a partner. A partner will be clear with what is included and excluded. Do projects with every minor detail worked out to a “T” actually exist? Bids should include very clear and detailed assumptions. Qualified partners will be able to leverage industry experience to direct their clarifications. Look at the numbers but also look at how they are presented, are they organized, detail orientated, and delivered when promised? Clarity equals quality.

3) Solutions not substitutions

One of these bids is not like the others- A great bid should include exactly what you asked for-an an accurate estimate of cost based on plans and specs. When subcontractors submit bids with substitutions it unbalances the scales and makes it difficult to do a side-by-side comparison of numbers. Look for partners who offer solutions. A partner will give you the number you need based on plans and specs AND provide valuable solutions to problems for you and your customer.


Understanding the importance of breaking down a bid can create an entirely new world of possibilities for both owners and designers when planning and executing your commercial project. Mastery of the process contributes to long-lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial in the goal of creating a project that ultimately satisfies the customer.

Feel free to reach out to Jessica Harrison for more information on how we can assist you with all of your preconstruction needs.


About the author:  Jessica grew up in the construction industry with her father owning and operating a flooring business. She began working in specialty subcontracting in 2013 and joined DCO Commercial Floors in May of 2017 as a Project Manager. She has worked in various roles across operations and training management, which lead to finding her passion in Preconstruction. Leveraging her varied experience, Jessica brings together project management and pipeline management with a focus on teamwork, efficiency, and quality. Jessica currently serves as the Preconstruction Manager for the DCO team. Her expertise can guide you through various solutions. Feel free to contact Jessica for more information on ways DCO Commercial Floors can assist you on  your next project. email:

About the firm: DCO Commercial Floors is a nationwide flooring dealer that is committed to being a flooring solutions leader for all finishes, bridging the gap between traditional floor covering and modern access flooring solutions. We provide comprehensive project management so that your project is smooth from the estimating stages to breaking down the bid, and procurement, from install to closeout. DCO will provide and deliver on all facets to become the partner of choice for your project.