Bidding to Building: Cornerstone provides a 'walkthrough' of the pre-construction process.

Author:Joyal, Brad

Even the most experienced contractors can find building in Alaska's environment complex and challenging. From finding the right project to bidding, hiring, and securing permits, construction projects require sharp choices and exhaustive attention to detail from start to finish.

Identifying A Project

Long before the contract is ever signed, general contractors are busy assessing a project to make sure it fits the company's goals. Alaska's builders typically learn about construction opportunities by sifting through bid lists--distributed nightly--that highlight available or planned projects. Bid lists include a comprehensive breakdown of each project's requirements, making them the preferred method of finding new work.

The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Alaska, The Plans Room, and The Dodge Report are handy resources for general contractors seeking their next project or performing research about opportunities available across the state. These are the three different resources that we keep an eye on," says Jonathan Hornak, senior project manager for Cornerstone General Contractors. "We basically enter all of the projects into a CRM database that keeps them in the front of our minds and helps us keep track of everything that is going on. A lot of the [daily] releases are basically sharing the same opportunities, but the mailing lists allow us to centralize those opportunities."

It can be tempting for general contractors to pursue ventures that would yield the greatest return on investment; however, the process of picking projects is much more complex. One of the first steps Anchorage-based Cornerstone takes with any list of available opportunities is to weed out the projects that aren't a fit for the company. "We look at several factors, but the projects that we throw away automatically are the projects that are out of our wheelhouse," says Hornak. "We don't do any piers or harbor work, so we can throw those projects away. We're interested in basically anything other than that marine work, and we try to stay pretty diverse in our client base because there's no one area that's going to have a ton of money to support the entire industry."

Identifying projects that make sense for the company is an essential part of the pre-bidding process, but there are additional factors general contractors must consider. The bid lists that are compiled and released by AGC of Alaska, The Plans Room, and The Dodge Report include projects with a range of deadlines and timeframes. Many of them are...

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