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How close do you follow specs when bidding a sign package?

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by Andy D, Oct 28, 2020.

  1. Andy D

    Andy D Very Active Member

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    I spec public projects, but I'm still fairly new at it & learning.
    I think some of the other shops that also bids just disregard the specs of approved manufacturers and some of the sign types, example; when they spec a cast aluminum/bronze plaque, I'm pretty sure that was spec'd years ago, because you can put a precision routed plaque and a cast plaque next to each other and would be hard pressed to tell the difference... & the precision routed plaque is around 25% less.
    Another example; I have an ADA sign vendor that can match any of the other "big boys" ADA signs, but they're quicker, cheaper & much better customer service.
    So... Anyone else bid public projects?
    How close do you follow these outdated specs?
     
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  2. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    Well I would get the cast plaque instead of the routed one, but the ADA stuff, I'm with you on that. Just like the 3M 7225 cast. How would they know it was 3M and not Oracal or Arlon unless they see the liner? If they specify braille dots (spheres, rasters) then you can't give them photopolymer braille dots. California is real picky how the tops of the braille dots have to be to a certain roundness. So you have to know your products and suppliers.
     
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  3. Andy D

    Andy D Very Active Member

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    Why you would get the cast plaque instead of the routed one if they look almost identical? I could be wrong about this, but isn't cast metals more prone to crack? I have tried to contact the engineer/architect to use substitutions but they never reply... If I can provide a better product for less money, why not?
     
  4. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    We do lots of public bidding - Most of the time they have a big enough gap where you can ask questions... Those questions then get answered and get put as an "addendum" so everyone interested in bidding on it can see.

    We always ask - If a customer asks for Avery...we ask if we can substitute to 3M's equivalent. If they ask for something outdated.... We ask if equivalent / better can be used. A lot of times this shows them you're paying attention to the specs, you're not going to cheap out on them and hope they don't notice, and it makes you trustworthy / knowledgeable, and shows you care.... Then even if you're a few bucks more than the cheapest... you're more likely to get chosen.

    Of course every tender/bid site is different... but I havent seen one yet where you couldn't reach out and ask for questions / Clarification. At least that way if you say you want to use a routed plaque instead of a cast and do it without asking...they cant find out, say you didnt fulfil your obligation and refuse to pay you.

    9/10 times substitutions are fine...the other time they have specific reasons for asking what theyre asking for, or theyre clueless and picky, and you dont want to work with them anyways
     
  5. Andy D

    Andy D Very Active Member

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    That hasn't been my experience.
    Just to make sure we're on the same page; when I bid a sign package, I send the bid to all the contractors that will be bidding the whole building project, usually around 10-30 general contractors. The only way to get an addendum is to contact the engineer or architect & I almost never get a reply.
     
  6. Notarealsignguy

    Notarealsignguy Very Active Member

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    For public bids I've always seen the same. Questions are added as an addendum to level the playing field. Also don't recall ever directly addressing the engineer involved, it's usually purchasing that runs it up the ladder. On bids where you offer an alternative product, they typically will accept it but require tech sheets to be included that prove it is an equal product. I always would include tech sheets in with bids.
     
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  7. rossmosh

    rossmosh Active Member

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    You think a faux finish plaque is going to outlast a cast bronze or aluminum plaque? Also, how is it a superior product? I've looked at the two products and the 25% cost isn't enough to justify going with the inferior product without a lifetime guarantee.
     
  8. Andy D

    Andy D Very Active Member

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    I think you miss understand, a cast plaque is aluminum or bronze poured into a mold, a precision routed plaque is routed from a solid plate of aluminum or bronze, there's nothing faux about it, they look the same and have the same lifetime guarantee, it's just cast plaques used to be the only option and the specs haven't been up dated.
    When creating a metal cast, it's my understanding that air pockets and imperfections weaken the product, so (I believe) a precision routed plaque would be a superior product and save the customer money.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
  9. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Specs...... ?? We ain't got no specs. We don't need no specs. We don't hafta use no stinkin' specs.
     
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  10. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Active Member

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    Part of the attraction of a cast plaque is the subtle imperfection of the casting process, which can often blend nicely with common building materials such as brick, stone, masonry and wood. Most routed plaques I see are "too" perfect (which works with some buildings; even better in interior applications where a cast plaque demands to much scale and can look out of place).
    Most of the time you can suggest alternatives. Some of the bigger architectural sign companies send out design packages, cut files, and samples to the architectural firms (along with special portals for design professionals to get info online), which makes specifying their project easier (The Sweet's catalog comes to mind). I've often recommended either better or less expensive alternates; most designers appreciate the input.
     
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  11. GB2

    GB2 Very Active Member

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    I find that the bidding process can be frustrating. Many bid specs are very clear that everything must be filled in completely and very specific about requirements such as no materials can be supplied by out of state vendors, and also very detailed specifications about materials and construction. I have spent many hours preparing bids, trying to comply with every little thing, only to go to a bid opening meeting to find that they award the bid to an out of state vendor who didn't even fill out the bid forms but just wrote a price down and will be supplying something completely different than the specification called for!

    Also, many times closely associated contractors or former bid winners will be asked to help write the bid specifications before a bid takes place and then not only do they have advanced notice of the bid but they get to write specifications that nobody can meet except themselves. I know this to be a fact as I've been asked to write bid specifications before.

    Very often the people in charge of conducting the bid don't know anything about the product and consequently quality or adherence to specifications is not a big factor, most times the only consideration is price, followed by a little who you know. To be a successful bidder sometimes can be a skill that takes a lot of experience.
     
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  12. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

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    Gemini offers both cast metal and precision tooled plaques, put them side by side and most people couldn't tell the difference, both are made of solid bronze, both have a lifetime warranty.

    I think you are confusing them with a resin plaque with metal top coat, which is indeed inferior
     
  13. Andy D

    Andy D Very Active Member

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    Agreed 100%. Also about 50% of my won bids end up being changed due to what's spec'd doesn't meet modern ADA compliance law.
     
  14. rossmosh

    rossmosh Active Member

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    I did misunderstand. Sorry about that. There's an alternative on the market where people are taking HDU or resins and making faux cast plaques, which is only a bit less than buying a plaque from Gemini. That's what I'm referring to.

    As for cast vs precision tooled, you're absolutely right to use them interchangeably without needing to tell the client. In fact, Gemini not that long ago would just precision tool a huge percentage of their jobs and not even tell the end consumer. They only semi-recently started marketing precision tooled vs cast.
     
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  15. myront

    myront CorelDRAW is best

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    Though only slightly relevant, just thought it funny.
    We have received various city sign specs in pdf format. Includes a sample layout, includes all the color codes, as well as, the typography and letter heights. Trouble is they did not use the actual colors or fonts in the pdf file so as I try to type out the exact same wording in the font and size according to the specs it doesn't fit on the sign. Specs call for a 48" but after tallying up all the measurements on their template i.e. letter ht, line spacing etc. It's simply impossible! And they get paid the big bucks!
     
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  16. KatePhillips

    KatePhillips Member

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    Yeah we hit this error quite often, actually - mostly with larger companies. Must be this font, this height, on this size sign... and then we have to go back and show them that they'll have to change at least one of those things. Or try condensed font
     
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