Having worked in this industry a longgggg time (does not make me know every thing) I am continually amazed at the number of contractors who waste countless hours, and dollars, preparing bids for projects that are either to large or to small, or out of their expertise or geographical work area. Doing this once or twice is bad enough, but over and over making the same mistakes. UGH
To help avoid this I use a form that was developed with 16 pertinent questions based on the job, contractor, owner, etc with four possible answers for each question. 1 - highly desirable, 2 - desirable, 3 - non desirable, and 4 - highly non desirable
Prior to the actual takeoff I look at the prints, do a job walk (on every job) then fill out an evaluation. I do it on paper so projects in the future can have historical information to help the evaluation on those projects. If the project is between 16 and 30 I will probably bid it, 31 to 45 I will probably not unless I am sure that I know something my competition does not (don't fool yourself here) and if it is above that I have just wasted the cost up to now. (I still keep a copy for future reference).
This helps keep me focused and bidding work that I have a better chance at procuring and then making a PROFIT!
I often wonder how many contractors out there are certified as a non-profit organization, many work as if they are. I was taught something a while ago that helped me, which is that POFIT is not a dirty word.