How to Bid on Plumbing Jobs

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Bidding on plumbing jobs can be an arduous process if you aren't sure of how to navigate through it. The bid you create should include the type of contract, the amount it will cost and the span of the job.

Draft a proposal to submit to the contracting agency. A proposal should be a detailed, somewhat lengthy explanation as to why you are the right plumbing company for the job. In addition to providing an overview of your company, include project experience, a statement of qualifications specific to the staff you are proposing for the job, a cost proposal (which, for most contracting agencies, should be submitted separately) and a technical overview of why you are most qualified. Be specific and use terminology related to your profession. Also include the cost of materials in the proposal and any subcontractor information you plan to utilize, such as information about the retailer or manufacturer from which you plan to get your materials.

Write out specific project experience descriptions to include in your proposal. Your project experience is your main selling point; it is, in fact, the very reason someone will want you for the job. For example, if you are bidding on a major re-pipe for a metropolitan planning organization or the administrative offices of a city or county government, include not only experience you have had with re-piping but how you have worked with government entities and handled similar projects in the past. Differentiate between the residential jobs and the commercial ones and submit project experience depending on which one is relevant to the proposal.

Consider the cost for materials. For example, if the job is new construction, the amount of work involved will be much greater in terms of the number of supplies and length and quantity of pipe you will need as well as the crew working on the job. Other considerations include the type of pipe that the client wants to use, particularly if you are fronting the cost of the materials. For example, copper pipe is not only more expensive per foot but also requires certain tools to manipulate it into place. PVC and CPVC pipe is much cheaper, but many clients want the best for their new construction jobs. The same can be said for remodels, depending on the home or business and the overall budget.

Include personnel considerations in your bid. After all, the size of the job will dictate the number of people and their level of experience needed. For example, new construction jobs should always have at least one, preferably two, master plumbers supervising the plumbing helpers. Remodels need at least one master plumber and a slew of helpers and apprentices. Naturally, master plumbers make more per hour or per project than do plumbing helpers, so when making your bid, keep that in mind. All plumbers should be properly licensed in the state in which the project is taking place in order to preside over any site, new construction or remodeling.

Determine your pricing structure. Not only should you consider the materials you will have to supply but also the people you employ to work on the job and what kind of profit you feel you should garner from it. Start the pricing process by figuring out what you will put out on payroll and materials, including all the pipe needed for the job. Then determine your profit percentage and add that on, giving you amount you should charge for the job. Many clients will want you to break down what they are paying for, so be prepared to draft your cost breakdown in detail for clients.

Double-check every aspect of your proposal before submission. Make sure that what you are offering in terms of services versus the scope of the budget is a sound financial move for your company. Make sure you can keep all of the promises you make in your proposal, such as the amount of staff you can offer to get the job done and the time it will take to do it. There should be no spelling or grammatical errors. The writing should be concise and to the point. The majority of contracting agencies will require you to bid on a plumbing job through a proposal of some sort, so make the investment to get the job done right, particularly if you frequently bid on plumbing jobs.


Some contracting agencies post plumbing bids and simply allow plumbing companies to make oral bids or submit short letters of interest. If this is the case, be clear about what you can offer, don't overstate your qualifications and make the case clearly for why your company is a better choice than any other.