Depends on what you mean by a last look? If you see some elses bid before an announced bid time or are allowed to make a late bid after a bid opening in which you know your competetion price, that is defenatly NOT ethical. Depending on your states laws it may be illeagal. My belief is that a bid goes in on time in a fair and honestly run bidding process. If you are late you lose out unless the reason for your bieng late are truly beyond your control. And if you are the low bidder the job is yours. If I discover that a general contractor or owner shops my bid, they will never get another one again. I have told a couple of GC's that I am not another EC's estimating department. If you go along with bid shoping, sooner or later that GC or owner will shop you right out of thier projects or even out of business.
There was a GC a few yers past that was a noted bid-shopper. The EC's and MC's made an informal deal not to provide the GC any bids for several projects. This particular GC is now one of the most ethical in the business. He got the message! Rowdy
Yes, that is what I mean by last look. After submitting a price having the GC or owner say "if you can do it for $xx,xxx, we'll give you the job." (kind of "if you can do it for less than this guy, it's yours")
What is unenthical about the GC or owner exercising their right to award the contract to whomever they see fit?
Is it the implied standard that the bid will go to the lowest bidder regardless of who is most qualified? Is that what's unethical, that the bidders are under the implied understanding that the bidding process will go a specific way, when in reality it doesn't necessarily?
Besides the fact that you are wasting the other guys' time, isn't that just the nature of the business?
I know I'm not from the United States and things are generally handled differently when it comes to relationships with GC's but what your talking about happens up here alot. It has gotten worse over the years and I will not play that game, maybe to my demise (20 years this year in buis. and seriously thinking about closing it down, but I have 15 employees to worry about).
Anyhow it became an obsession with me to find ways to stop it (no luck so far)but i was surprised at the documentation and studies in the United States related to "Bid-Shopping", I did a Google search for bid-shopping and was really surprised.
It is against the law and best purchasing practices, in Canada and I'm pretty sure in the US, problem is knowbody does anything about it.
Here is how I see it: It cost's money to generate a quote. The quote is issued at the estimators best "guess" as to what the project is going to cost.
Then along comes some "BLEEP" and steals the job by saying or thinking "Oh, yea. I can do that job for that price. I know ABC Electric issues good prices for jobs." Of course he's ahead he didn't have any overhead cost's related to pricing the job.
Sorry, got carried away, it just irk's me to no end when this happens.
I have thought of putting up a WEB site where good contractors could post the People who practice "bid-Shopping or un-ethical pratices" but have advised by my Lawyer that it would probably be very hard to prove that it was happening and "SLANDER CHARGES WOULD REALLY HURT".
For me, I have Morals and believe "WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND". I can sleep at nights, maybe on an empty stomach but without guilt.
I had a problem last year with a contractor I do quite a bit of work for. I bid a job for them for a project at a local university. The job involved quite a bit of lighting and we only had about 4 days before the due date. I spent at least 15 hrs working on this bid which was due Friday at 9:30am, to the point where Thursday night I'm calling the engineer and architects at home to get clarification on some issues. Monday the contractor calls me and tells me we got the job and he'll be sending me the deposit so I can order the fixtures. After more than a week I call him to say I have'nt received the check and that I need to order the fixtures because of a long lead time. He says XYZ Electric gave him a price that was lower than mine so he'll be doing the job instead. I was livid. Here I'm breaking my hump to get the number in on time, he gets the job using my number and then goes shopping.
Since then the relationship has changed. I still work with this guy, but I sting him for every extra. He knows he can't call me anymore last minute to "get him out of a jam". What he did was probably perfectly legal, but wrong IMO.
I ran into one of these situations this week. A GC I do a lot of work for had me bid on a 5 unit commercial building. There was a print but no devices or light fixtures were specified. I got quotes for quality electronic troughers and lamps from my lighting guy and I always use spec grade back wired duplex receptacles and 20A spec grade switches. The service equipment I quoted was all GE Powerline Gold Series. I stated on my bid what materials and fixtures I was going to install. Well, the GC got the job but the owner wants to shop the electrical around some more. I was the lowest price on the electrical but the owner thinks some costs can be cut by using less expensive distribution panels/breakers and receptacles,switches and light fixtures from Menards. We don't have a big box store in this county. This owner is a local business owner in our town and one that screams the loudest when people go out of town to buy stuff. Burns me up!
I don't know much about your area (local) as far as relationships with local business. Owners and where product's area purchased.
I think he's trying to save money and sounds like you still have a shot at doing the work (if cheaper $$$$ material is chosen) at least your still in the negotiation stages.
That is not really "Bid-shopping".
There is a difference between looking for savings that will get passed on to the end user and back door pricing where the GC'S end up with the money. (Normally the customer does not see that money!!! That's the big problem.
Jump in find some or suggest some savings and get the work.