One truism of home ownership is that there is always something that needs to be fixed or upgraded. That’s true in condo and co-op communities as well, both large and small. There’s always a roof to replace or a boiler to upgrade, or a lobby to refurbish. The challenge is finding the right contractors to get these jobs done efficiently and effectively at a cost that the building or HOA can handle.
Types of Jobs
Work in and around multifamily buildings usually falls into two categories: one-time, big-ticket capital improvements like roof or boiler replacements or façade overhauls, and smaller, recurring maintenance work like pest control and landscaping/snow removal. While the scale and frequency of the work falling under each category are different, the vendors and contractors that do the work are identified and engaged through the same process of research, bid solicitation, final selection, and awarding of contracts.
How Does the Bidding Process Work?
Michele Schlossberg is an account executive with Gumley Haft, a management company based in New York City. “The funny thing about the bidding process is that it’s pretty similar for both large capital improvement jobs and annual vendor services,” she says. “What’s different are the pre-bid activities.” Schlossberg describes the bidding process for large capital improvements as follows: “Let’s say I need to replace a roof—so I call in an engineer who specializes in roofs. They come out and inspect the property and then create a request for proposal, or RFP. From there, the engineer will draw up project specs and a bid package that will be sent to between three and five vendors, depending on the preferences of the board. Also, vendors and contractors are very busy—so if you only send an RFP to three, you may not find one.”
To ensure fairness and impartiality, says attorney Hubert Cutolo, founding partner of Newark-based law firm Cutolo Barros, LLC, an RFP should stipulate a deadline for submissions—usually around 20 days—after which no other bids will be considered.
Once all the responses are collected, says Cutolo, they’re delivered back to the board and/or manager in a sealed format, and all opened at the same time. (Opening bids as they come in could give an early bidder an advantage—or allow other bidders to adjust their proposals to undercut the known bid.)