Bidding help, please

Second year in business. First shot at a good size commercial job. The property manager, a small town housing authority, has asked that I use the window count (1,800) from another contractor. This is a large elementary school on level, easily accessed terrain that has been reborn as a retirement community. (It’s a cool remodel.) Anyway, I counted about 400 frames, however, over half this is true mullions. The competing contractor is counting panes of glass and that is where he got his 1800 window count. Top of the tallest window is 20 - 25 feet, true mullions, 9 panes per window. All screens will be removed and cleaned by in house maintenance team. The larges part of the job would include the outside of all windows, plus the inside of about half the windows. Furniture moving will be required to access interior glass. The housing authority is not asking for any particular government bidding format.

This competitor has been in the business longer than me and has an established crew and significant repeat business. Frankly, he’s buttoned up our local commercial market. He’s been beating my bids by 20% - 40%, most of the time. At other times we are very close. I can’t get a handle on how he is working out his bids, but I know he is well established and is making his living doing only windows. (And that in northern Wisconsin)

I may have a bargaining card he does not. He does not do carpets. I do, as well as tile and grout restoration, and this place has acres of carpets with an admitted problem in keeping up with carpet cleaning.

This contract could double in size next year as the same government entity (small town housing authority) is revamping a second facility/. What are your suggestions in putting together this estimate. Any and all advice is appreciated. I plan to put the estimate in clear presentation folder with pics and referrals and present in person.

Again, a lot to ask for in a bb, and your help is appreciated.


If the project was in shape to be cleaned via WFP, I’d be at $8+ per window for inside and out. 400 windows, half inside and all outside =$2400+. Not bad for a few days work.

Bennon, I’ve never used a wfp system. Can I clean true nine pannel mullioned windows with wfp. From the looks of it the windows are not in bad shape on the outside. I’ve been looking for a ticket/excuse into a wfp system. But the system has to pay for itself in short order for me to justify it. Perhaps time saved with a wfp on this project would pay for the wfp. Two ways to look at the job 400 frames or 1800 panes of glass. Any more thoughts on this?


While you can get into wfp work fairly inexpensively I would say you can’t make it pay for itself on the first few residential jobs. If you bid and get a larger commercial gig it might go a long way to paying for the system. Also the first few times you use it you’ll be on the learning curve so you’ll spend as much if not more time figuring out the process and developing your technique. However once you make the leap you’ll quickly start making more money.

So, the variety on this job - some large panes, some mullioned frames, 1,2 and 3 story - might be a good learning environment?


I would definitely think so! Should help you work out the kinks.