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Construction Bid Support


Written by Chris Turner


May 08, 2024

Construction bid support: tender writing services to support your business

Thornton & Lowe - construction bid support, bid and tender writing but much more! We have been helping construction companies to win public sector tenders since 2009. Your bids don't need to frustrating or 'an extra job'! Our outsourced tender writing services allows our clients to focus on pricing and delivery, while we focus on:

  • Ensuring you are tender ready! Developing case studies, policies, staff bios and supporting information for your tender responses
  • Pre-qualification Questionnaires (PQQs) and Selection Questionnaires (SQs)

Do you have a live tender? Need tender writing support?

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Procurement in the construction industry (2024)

Procurement plays a crucial role in the successful execution of construction projects in the United Kingdom. Thornton & Lowe works closely with the National Federation of Builders (NFB) to provide tender writing and construction bid support services to their members. We advise their members and keep them updated on procurement and the likely implications.

By procurement we refer to public sector buyers who require works and services. The procurement team, will advertise an opportunity or invite you to tender. As a contractor you will respond to this tender with your construction bid or proposal.

Effective procurement processes ensure that the right goods, services, and works are obtained at the best possible value for money, whilst also adhering to legal and regulatory requirements. Understanding the thresholds and trigger values associated with construction procurement is essential for both public and private sector entities to navigate the procurement landscape efficiently and effectively.

In the UK, the procurement thresholds and trigger values had primarily been determined by European Union (EU) directives, however since Brexit, the UK Government has sought to bring these in line with the World Trade Organisation’s directive for procurement thresholds. These thresholds help categorise construction projects based on their estimated value, enabling the appropriate procurement procedures to be followed. They aim to promote fair competition, transparency, and value for money in public procurement processes.

Public sector construction procurement is subject to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR 2015), which sees continual updates to maintain pace with the ever changing procurement landscape. This piece of public sector legislation governs how public authorities award contracts for construction works, goods, and services. These regulations establish different threshold values that trigger specific procurement procedures.

For works contracts, the threshold values vary depending on the sector in which the contracting authority operates. Central government departments, utilities sector organisations, defence and security sector entities, and those operating in social and other specific services sectors all have a threshold of £4,551,413. All other contracting authorities, not falling into the aforementioned categories, have a higher threshold of £9,055,534. The current thresholds are as follows:

Works Contracts:

£4,551,413 for central government departments and other contracting authorities operating in specific sectors such as defence and security.

£4,551,413 for contracting authorities operating in the utilities sector.

£4,551,413 for contracting authorities operating in the defence and security sector.

£4,551,413 for contracting authorities operating in the social and other specific services sectors.

£9,055,534 for all other contracting authorities.

Supplies and Services Contracts:

£122,976 for central government departments and other contracting authorities operating in specific sectors such as defence and security.

£122,976 for contracting authorities operating in the utilities sector.

£122,976 for contracting authorities operating in the defence and security sector.

£663,540 for contracting authorities operating in the social and other specific services sectors.

£189,330 for all other contracting authorities.

It is important to note that these thresholds are subject to change, and it is advisable to continually consult the most up-to-date regulations and guidance from the UK government or relevant authorities when embarking on a construction procurement process.

Need a quote for tender writing services?

If you have a live construction tender and need a quote for bid or tender writing services contact us now – / 01204 238046

We ask you share the tender documents or procurement pack and we will want to discuss:

  • The deadline date (and internal deadlines)
  • Your relationship with the client
  • Key pass / fail tender questions and your experience
  • Specifically, what you need support with (usually writing and managing the quality elements of the tender or providing a bid review).

Our quotes are fixed fees to give you budget control. If you bid for construction contracts regularly and are looking for a tender writing consultancy partner, request details of our Bid Success Programme.

Most of our customers require:

  • Supporting monitoring construction bids and managing tender portals
  • Professional bid writing services for a construction bid
  • Tender or bid reviews to maximise the quality of your draft tender responses
  • Bid writing courses.

Procurement Act’s impact on construction contractors

From October 2024 the Procurement Act comes into place which is focused on making bidding, tenders and procurement more flexible and accessible for SMEs. The Procurement Bill and how this could impact contractors

After months of negotiations, the Procurement Reform Bill has completed its passage through the Committee Stage and Report Stage in the House of Commons and will now progress to a third reading. After such time, there will be a consideration for any further amendments within the House of Lords, and the Bill will then pass for Royal Assent. This legislative reform aims to replace the existing EU Procurement Rules, which are no longer applicable in the UK, post-Brexit.

The introduction of the Transforming Public Procurement program seeks to enhance the regulation of public procurement and establish a simpler and more flexible system for users. These changes will have a broad impact, encompassing the entire public sector, including central and local government, as well as organisations like the NHS. While the reforms will be implemented across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, it's important to note that Scotland retains devolved powers concerning its procurement legislation.

Public procurement represents a substantial portion of public expenditure, amounting to approximately £300 billion annually, making it the largest area of public spending. Consequently, achieving value for money is of paramount importance. The regulatory changes are driven by the aim to improve value for money, with the introduction of new, more competitive, yet streamlined procedures intended to facilitate increased engagement with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Terminology changes are also expected, with “Contract Notices” now being advertised as “Tender Notices”, and new notice types to cover the full life cycle of a contract. The Bill will also include provisions to exclude suppliers from defence and security tenders, should they be deemed to present a risk to national security.

Direct Awards of contracts could be possible, if seen to be “in the public interest” – however this may be a section of the Bill that faces some scrutiny.

The reform will introduce greater flexibility, enabling buyers to negotiate directly with suppliers through a "competitive flexible procedure." This innovative approach empowers contracting authorities to tailor the competition process to suit the specific requirements of their contracts and the market. The bill will enshrine the fundamental objectives of public procurement into law, emphasising the delivery of value for money, maximising public benefit, and upholding principles of integrity.

The new noticing regime for contracts released under the new legislation will follow the subsequent process:

Planned procurement notice - this will be used for above threshold procurements, giving suppliers advance notice of an upcoming procurement opportunity. If published between 40 days and a year ahead of the tender notice, this notice allows the contracting authority to reduce the tendering period (the length of time that suppliers have to submit tenders after the publication of the tender notice) from 25 days to 10 days. This is the equivalent of the current Prior Information Notice for reducing time limits.

Tender notice - this notice advertises a competitive contract opportunity, giving suppliers information on what is being procured and the value, to enable them to decide whether to submit a tender. For below threshold procurement opportunities, there is a simplified Tender notice with a reduced set of fields. This is equivalent to the current Contract Notice in Find a Tender and the Opportunity Notice on Contracts Finder. Tender Pipeline, our free bid software providing tender alerts and competitor intelligence tool will continue to allow you to search for tenders, frameworks and competitors contracts. We have a brief video on how to find tenders and use Tender Pipeline.

Transparency notice - this notice advises the market that an above threshold direct award will be made, and what the justification is for that. This is equivalent to the current Voluntary Ex-Ante Transparency notice (VEAT).

Contract award notice - this notice must be published after the decision has been made to award an above threshold contract, but that contract has not yet been signed. This notice begins the standstill period, if it applies, during which any challenges to the award can be made. There is no current equivalent.

Perhaps, most conveniently, there will now be a single registration service for suppliers, a “one stop shop”, operating on a “tell us once” style system to avoid unnecessary administrative headaches with multiple portal spaces.

Maintaining quality of works will become an even greater focus, as it may now become much easier for contracting authorities to reject bids from suppliers who pose risks through threats such as poor previous performance. These incidents will become much more easily accessible for potential buyers to view, thus the need to provide exceptional service and value for money is even more critical. The way businesses are alerted to upcoming tenders is likely to change too, with external platforms no longer being the space where contract notices are hosted. This may however provide the benefit of ease, with all opportunities being advertised in a single space for public sector procurement.

Buyers requesting the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) will remain, however a renewed emphasis may be placed on Most Advantageous Tenders (MATs) too, meaning buyers can set their priorities to other areas, such as innovation, when assessing a tender.

Post tender negotiations may become a more popular route for public sector procurement as they are given further flexibility to work with contractors. With our experience in competitive dialogue we believe our support in this area will become an increasing requirement with our construction bid support offering.

Private sector construction procurement, on the other hand, is generally not subject to the same statutory thresholds as public sector procurement. However, private entities often have internal thresholds and policies to guide their procurement processes. These internal thresholds are typically based on factors such as the organisation's risk appetite, financial considerations, and project complexity.

Understanding the procurement thresholds and trigger values is essential for effectively planning and executing construction projects in the UK. It helps ensure compliance with legal requirements, promotes fair competition, and facilitates the selection of the most suitable suppliers or contractors for the job. By adhering to the appropriate procurement procedures based on the project's estimated value, construction stakeholders can enhance transparency, accountability, and ultimately deliver successful outcomes.

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Typical tender requirements of public sector construction bids

When writing a construction bid, there are many important factors to consider before putting pen to paper. A common mistake made by tenderers is failing to prepare the necessary documentation ahead of time which, in turn, leads to stressful and low-scoring writing. The only way to capture the full requirements of your quality questions is to read the Invitation to Tender (ITT) and opportunity specification carefully ahead of time. However, we have compiled a list of the typical requirements you will see when bidding for constriction bid, which should help get you ahead of your competition.

Starting with the mandatory requirements, you are almost guaranteed to be asked to provide evidence of compliance in the following areas:

  • Legal compliance - this includes providing evidence of your company's legal registration, tax identification number, and any necessary licenses or permits required for the types of construction work outlined in the specification
  • Financial status - you may be required to submit, or be willing to submit if requested, financial statements, such as balance sheets and income statements, to demonstrate your company's financial stability
  • Experience and qualifications - buyers will often request information about your company's relevant experience in delivering similar construction projects to a high quality standard. To do this, you may wish to include a list of completed projects (note that these may be required to have been completed within the past 3-5 years), references, or case studies (depending on the flexibility of your specification compliance)
  • Health and safety - you will typically need to demonstrate compliance with health and safety regulations. This may involve providing a health and safety plan, risk assessments, and details of any training or certifications your team possesses
  • Insurance - buyers generally require contractors to have specific insurance coverage, such as general liability insurance, professional liability insurance, and worker's compensation insurance. Proof of insurance will likely be requested
  • Accreditation and certifications - depending on the scope of works, buyers may require certain accreditations or certifications. These could include ISO certifications, environmental certifications, or specific industry certifications. Any required certifications will always be listed within the specification, such as CHAS
  • Bonds and guarantees - some projects may require contractors to provide bid bonds, performance bonds, or warranties as a form of financial security and guarantee.
Winning Bid Team

'Tender FAQ' for construction bids

Moving on to common, but not necessarily mandatory requirements of construction tenders, within your quality responses will likely be asked to evidence, describe or propose your approach towards:

  • Construction methodology - buyers will often want to know your approach to completing the project. You may be asked to describe your construction methodology, project management processes, and scheduling methods
  • Personnel and team composition - as part of this question, you may be required to provide CVs for the key personnel who will be involved in the project, including their qualifications, and similar experience. They may also ask for the size and composition of your project team to be demonstrated on an organigram
  • Subcontractor management - where you are using subcontractors to complete elements of the contracted works, buyers may want to know how you select and manage your subcontractors. This may involve providing details of your subcontractor vetting process and quality control measures
  • Quality control and assurance - questions related to quality control and assurance may focus on how you ensure that construction standards are met, how you conduct inspections and testing, and how you address any defects or deficiencies
  • Materials and equipment - increasingly common from a carbon footprint or social value perspective, buyers may request information about the materials and equipment you intend to use, including their quality, compliance with standards, and ethical sources of procurement
  • Project schedule and milestones - you may be required to provide a detailed project schedule, including key milestones, critical path analysis, and any strategies for managing delays or unforeseen circumstances.

Whilst this is not a comprehensive list of every question you may receive during the tendering process for construction contracts, it is important to note that the overall themes of these questions cover a large swathe of the construction tenders we encounter. By reading this list and having the necessary information to hand, you will find that your bidding process is made quicker and easier.

Tips to improve the performance of your construction bids

One of the most common problems we find for construction companies looking to diversity into public sector contracts is a misunderstanding of what it actually is that the Awarding Panel look for in responses, and how they award points. Whilst the scoring criteria will always be listed within the ITT, we have broken down the key top tips to writing high scoring public sector construction bids.

  • Understand the requirements - seemingly common sense, this is a crucial step that is often overlooked due to the length of the ITT documents and the sometimes quick turnarounds that bidders are required to complete bids within. However, the only way to identify the exact demands of the Awarding Panel and is to carefully review the tender documents and ensure that you fully understand the scope of work, technical specifications, and evaluation criteria. By doing this, you will be able to accurately allocate time and resources to competing the bid and identify any mandatory requirements and evaluate if your company meets them. This, in turn, will also prevent you from directing time and resources into bids that are unsuitable for your company
  • Start early - don’t push your bid down your priority list. To score highly, it is important to give yourself ample time to prepare the bid. Starting early allows you to thoroughly research, plan your bid, and gather the necessary information without rushing, ensuring a high-quality submission
  • Customise your bid - to show that you are the best culture match, align with the buyer’s needs and project requirements. Clearly demonstrate your understanding of their objectives and showcase how your company can meet and exceed them. By addressing the buyer's specific concerns, challenges, and priorities in your bid, you can prove that their opportunity is a priority to you, and that you value their contract enough to have done your homework/pre-anticipated their needs
  • Showcase your experience - above all else, public sector buyers look for confidence that the taxpayer’s money is going to a reputable and high-quality company. To provide reassurance to the Awarding Panel, you should highlight your company's relevant experience, successful projects, and expertise in similar construction works. Ways in which you can do this include provide case studies, references, and testimonials that demonstrate your track record of delivering quality results. This is particularly effective if you have previous similar public contract experience
  • Professional bid support - pay careful attention to how you write your bid, ensuring that your bid responses are well-structured, easy to read and free of errors. Use clear and concise language to convey your key points and avoid complex terminology without first explaining it. This is because the Awarding Panel may not always be experts in your field. For more help with writing your bid or tender - contact our Bid Writers to see how we can help
  • Collaborate with partners - if the project requires partnering with subcontractors or suppliers, collaborate with them effectively. Clearly define their roles and responsibilities, communicate your expectations, and coordinate their involvement in the bid process. The UK Government commits to spending 1/3 of its annual procurement spend on Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Don’t let larger contract values deter you from bidding if you have a network of suitable partners with whom you can collaborate to submit your bid
  • Emphasise health, safety and quality - due to the nature of contraction works, public sector buyers prioritise health, safety, and quality in construction projects. By clearly outlining your commitment to maintaining high standards in these areas, you can prove to the Awarding Panel that you are fully compliant with best practice and up-to-date with the required safety protocols, quality control processes, and any relevant certifications or accreditations. In short, by emphasising these areas, you are reassuring the buyer that you are a safe and reliable supplier
  • Differentiate yourself - stand out from your competitors by highlighting your unique strengths, innovative approaches, or specialised capabilities. Clearly articulate why the buyer should choose your company over others, and what sets you apart. A great way to evidence this is to use case studies and testimonials, which should be formed from your bid strategy
  • Continuously improve - learn from each bid submission, regardless of the outcome. Seek feedback from buyers and evaluate your performance to identify areas for improvement. Use this knowledge to refine your bidding process and enhance your future bids.

Relationships are still important, even when tendering

Scoring well doesn’t necessarily all come down to bid performance, however. Like with private buyers, the public sector will do their research on bidders which may influence their decision-making process. To ensure that you remain at the top of their list we recommend that you consider the following Business to Government (B2G) marketing advice, business development and public sector sales techniques:

  • Develop a strong online presence with a professional website and active social media profiles to showcase your expertise and projects
  • Participate in industry conferences, seminars, and trade shows to network with potential clients and stay updated on industry trends
  • Collaborate with construction associations or organisations to enhance your visibility and credibility
  • Provide educational content, such as blog posts, that offer insights and solutions to common construction challenges
  • Build strategic partnerships with other firms in the industry to leverage combined expertise and expand your reach
  • Actively engage in public procurement portals and platforms where government tenders are advertised
  • Seek opportunities for pre-qualification or vendor registration with government agencies to streamline the bidding process.

Our Bid Writing Ultimate Guide provides further depth on bid writing and how to increase the chances of winning your next construction tender.


Tendering for construction frameworks

A framework application can be a very similar to a typical construction bid for a contract, however, by its nature the questions are more general and not project focused. There are now thousands of framework agreements across the public sector. Frameworks and DPS have been created to allow public sector suppliers and buyers to work together more easily. However, this sheer volume can make it difficult for construction businesses when tendering for frameworks. Which construction framework should I be? Which do my existing public sector clients prefer to use? Does the construction framework generate a lot of business an opportunity to tender?

Construction frameworks have many pros and cons, so it is important to consider these before bidding. We have a free construction bid writing course covering bidding best practice, focused specifically on the construction market, delivered with and for the National Federation of Builders. Bespoke training forms part of our construction bid support services and our 360 support for our SME bidding clients.

Some Key UK Construction Framework Agreements, include:

North West Construction Hub (NWCH)





Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC)


Crown Commercial Services (CCS) Construction Works

London Housing Consortium (LHC)

Procurement for Housing (PfH)

Monitoring live construction frameworks will help you ensure you do not miss out on the next key public sector opportunity. You can find much more information on framework agreements and how they can benefit your construction business via dedicated Framework Content Hub.

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