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What's the Difference Between a Construction Bid and an Estimate?

A construction bid template, or bid sheet, is the required document on which construction companies present their formal bid in their effort to win a project. In the traditional method of selecting a contractor, an architectural firm is hired by the property owner to develop a design for the building or project. Once that design is completed and approved by the client, the architect then puts the design out for bids. While the architect may want to know more information about a contractor than just their price, the price is the primary reason for the selection of most primary contractors.

Online Construction Bid Systems

Two common proposal methods for bidding on commercial construction jobs are the design-build proposal and the construction manager at-risk (CM at-risk) proposal. The design-build method combines the architect and contractor as a unified team that presents not only a price to build the project but also the cost of the architectural design.

The Internet has significantly changed many aspects of the construction industry, including the bidding process. Traditionally, companies bidding on a project had to send large amounts of paperwork to a potential client for consideration. Today, construction bids can be created and submitted online, finishing the bid process with the click of a mouse.

  • Selection of appropriate procurement and contracting strategies as well as the nomination of an appropriate principal in the contracts
  • Preparation of tender documents and contracts based on standard forms
  • Selection of contractors and consultants with proven performance records
  • Effective management of contracts, including clause commentaries, sample letters, and checklists
  • Resolution of contractual claims and disputes

Using Construction Bid Estimation Software

There are online databases that allow you to view, download, and print construction drawings in order to complete a bid proposal. To gain access to a database, construction companies must register and complete all application requirements. For any given project, all of the information relevant to bidding is shared among all participating contractors, and notifications regarding due dates and changes are sent via email.


For a project to go ahead, you will need to make a firm offer to your customer. This is your construction bid. In it, you commit to providing your customer with a specified construction at a given price and often by a given date too. If the customer approves the bid, you are then expected to honor your commitment and carry out the work as described in the bid. Clearly, you need the most accurate cost estimates available in order to put the right price into your bid and make a satisfactory profit on the job.


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