5 No Brainers To Creating A Competitive Bid Using Codes and Loads

Competitive Bid

Nuts & Bolts by Bryan Arlington

Landing a project feels like winning a prize, sort of like finding that forgotten $20 bill in the pocket of a pair of jeans you haven’t worn in a while. But living on the “chance” of winning a job isn’t a great way to pay your electric bill. So, how do you swing the chances in your favor?

You turn in the most competitive bid.

Whether that means you are competing against other contractors or simply the owner’s budget, the sharpest – not the luckiest – sword wins the battle.

Here’s how to hone your competitive bid with tips on codes and loads:

  1. When pricing a job, confirm that the wind and snow exposures are correct. Using exposure C when exposure B is all that is required can lose you the job. The same is possible with incorrect snow site exposure factor.
  2. When in a high seismic area and your building has a collateral load that exceeds 5 psf, ask how much of that collateral will actually be on the whole roof. A large number of specifiers put heavy collateral on a total roof area because they do not know where the collateral is going. However, if the collateral will only cover 25% of the total roof area, that is all that needs to be included in the seismic analysis.
  3. Input collateral load as ceiling only if a ceiling will be present. Ceiling triggers stricter deflections for both rafters and purlins than what is required for other types of collateral loading.
  4. Always question the specifier if they ask for a live load greater than 20 psf. Any live load other than 20 psf is either a building with extraordinary construction loads or an error by the specifier. If they are looking for a specific roof snow load, calculate it based on use of the building and code ground snow requirements.
  5. When in high seismic areas, confirm the soil site conditions. Your bid can be more competitive by knowing the site conditions, rather than relying on SBS defaults.

Stay sharp. Stay competitive. And stay here for more “no brainer” tips on getting and keeping your competitive edge.

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Bryan Arlington

Bryan Arlington, P.E., started at Star in 1996 as a Design Engineer. In 1999, he moved to the Estimating Department as a Sales Engineer. After achieving Senior Sales Engineer, he was promoted to Chief Sales Engineer and then Manager of Estimating. Bryan has a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and is a registered professional engineer in multiple states. When not at work he enjoys spending time with his wife, Shalmarie and his two children, Jessica and Jacob.


  • Avatar
    Reply September 27, 2013

    Jim Willis

    These are good reminders of things that we sometimes “just” breeze by and overlook as we are cranking out bids. Thanks for the reminders!!!

    • Star Building Systems
      Reply September 27, 2013

      Star Building Systems

      Thanks, Jim!

  • Avatar
    Reply September 30, 2013

    Pat Sparks

    Thanks for the SBS code crash course, we always wonder if we are doing the right thing when cruising thru an SBS input to get a bid out. A & E’s need this info also.

    Perhaps an “FAQ” section for A/Es on the website … keep us all inline.

    Pat Sparks
    Sparcon Associates

    • Star Building Systems
      Reply September 30, 2013

      Star Building Systems

      Thank you, Pat! This is a great idea that we will consider for the new blog/website.

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