Exercise Caution When Choosing the Lowest Bidder for Low-Voltage Cabling

November 30, 2018 | Blue Wave Communications

It is a common practice to request several bids for key contracting services whenever you are preparing to build, expand, or renovate a property and the field of low-voltage cabling is no different. The goal for putting contracting services out to bid is to try and minimize costs while maximizing the quality of work delivered within an established timeframe. However, on many voice and data cabling bids, many companies tend to base their decision only on the cost of service without taking into consideration other important factors —and often end up regretting their decision later.

Why should you avoid solely using "low costs" when choosing between structured cabling bids?

The following are a few reasons to avoid simply going with low-voltage cabling contractors that submit an astoundingly low bid compared to others:

The Lowest-Bid Contractor May Be Leaving Things Out

All too often, we’ve seen low-voltage cabling contractors submit a ridiculously low bid that fails to account for all of the materials, tools, permits, and labor needed to complete the job. In such cases, the contractor ends up relying on change orders to make up for the costs.

Regrettably, some disreputable contractors purposely omit things that are integral to the infrastructure but not specifically spelled out on the drawings or defined on the bid documents with the intention of issuing change orders once they are under contract. The cost of the “low” bid may be attractive up front, but in the end, the total cost could likely exceed even the highest initial bid received.

Low Structured Cabling Bids May Indicate Poor Quality

If a low-voltage cabling contractor is submitting a price that is significantly lower than other bids, they may end up using inferior-quality components (think Chinese drywall) and cutting corners on the installation work. These could lead to poor network performance or, in the worst cases, total failure. Poor installation could also lead to unnecessary delays on the project because of failed inspections, rework, etc.

Get Your Structured Cabling Done Right the First Time

All told, choosing a structured cabling contractor based on cost alone can often be more trouble than it’s worth—especially if the price seems too good to be true. When requesting quotes from low-voltage cabling contractors, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Provide Contractors with all the Necessary Drawings- Construction drawings are essential for contractors to get a perspective on the project and also aids in identifying potential issues that may impact the low-voltage cabling installation. In a perfect world, there will be Technology or T-drawings that includes all the information required. However, this is not common for the majority of the projects, therefore, electrical drawings along with the Reflected Ceiling Plan (RCP) should be provided at a minimum.
  • Define the Scope of Work- A set of construction drawings rarely includes enough information for a low-voltage contractor to put together an accurate bid based on the specific needs of your network. Therefore, a Scope of Work document (SOW) is needed to augment the construction drawings and to help reduce ambiguity when contractors are reviewing the drawings. A SOW should specify everything from the type of cable and connecting hardware to the layout and requirements of the Server/Telecom Room(s) as well as any backbone cabling needed.
  • Be Open to Questions- Despite providing up-to-date drawings and a Scope of Work document, there will almost always be questions on the part of the low-voltage contractor. Be wary of any contractors that simply provide a quote based on a set of drawings. If they didn’t bother to ask questions to verify your specific requirements and/or preferences, then it is likely they will not have your best interests in mind during the project and will nickel & dime you for every little change.
  • Evaluate Everything- When reviewing quotes/proposals from contractors, be mindful of the overall presentation and their attention to detail. Is the proposal professionally written? Did they take the time to include the scope of work within the proposal? How prompt and courteous are they when responding to your calls, emails, etc.?

Cost is an important aspect of choosing between structured cabling bids. However, it shouldn’t be your only consideration. It’s important to consider whether or not the bid accounts for everything, the bidder’s track record for quality of service, and what post-installation support the contractor is willing to provide.

If you need a structured cabling solution from a contractor that will meet and exceed minimum low-voltage cabling standards to provide superior service and quality, contact Blue Wave Communications. We have decades of experience helping companies meet their structured cabling needs, and work hard to ensure that we will provide you with the most accurate quote for service that we possibly can so there are no surprises down the line.

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