How To Bid On That Trenchless City Project

By Denise Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2020 | Last updated: July 5, 2023
Key Takeaways

A complete bid includes not just a list of materials and costs. It also contains information about what you plan to do if things go wrong.

Earning a city contract can mean a steady flow of income for a company. However, winning that contract means pre-bidding meetings and putting together a bid package that makes your business stand out above all the rest.


Before launching into the bid process, take a moment to visit our Trenchless Construction Method Calculator for detailed guidance and recommendations customized to your specific needs. Next step, prepare for your pre-bid meeting:

Pre-Bid Meeting

Before putting in a bid with the city, you need to meet with the board to present your project. This presentation helps to highlight the practical and functioning parts of your company and put it in the forefront of their minds when you put in your bid.


When presenting your company, there are several talking points you should ensure are in your presentation.

Provide a Summary of Your Business

The first point to cover is a summary of your business. Give a brief history of what your company does and some of the past city projects completed. If you have any awards or special certifications that make you stand out, be sure to mention them. Keep your business summary brief.

Explain the Essentials of the City Project

After introducing your company to the board, briefly explain the essential points of the city project. Give an evaluation of the work site and define the scope of the project. Explain how you plan to complete the job promptly and justify any expenses that you may incur. (Read also: Using Trenchless Technology to Replace City Lead Pipes)

Present a Realistic Project Timeline

A critical talking point you should not forget to cover is the project timeline. Board members meeting with you are not just going to be concerned about overall costs. They want to know how long you think it may take to complete the project. Be realistic on your estimate; later on, this will be held against you if you undershoot the timeline.

Allow a Q&A Session

At the end of your presentation, open the floor to questions that anyone may have. Answer all questions to the best of your ability. If you are unsure of the answer, do not wing it as it may hurt you in the end. Instead, be honest and offer to get back to them on the topic.


During this session, you can also ask questions. Take this time to discuss easement and contract agreements. (Read also: Easement and Contract: The Legalities of Trenchless Projects)

Submitting the Bid

After the pre-bid meeting, submit your written bid. Before submitting, make sure that all of the information within your proposal lines up with the presentation you gave to the city board members; explain any discrepancies in the submission.

Detail the scope of the city project. In the bid itself, spell out the types of lines you plan to use as well as length and diameter. For new construction, be sure to include the layout of the pipelines in your plans. For renovation or trenchless repair projects, detail how you plan to handle disposal of older plumbing, if applicable. (Read also: Rehabilitating City Water Lines Using Trenchless Technology)

The bid should include a list of materials and providers. Included in the materials list should be a detailed description including the estimated lifespan and element composition of your materials. (Read also: The Lifespan of Steel, Clay, Plastic & Composite Pipes)

Contingency Plans and Budget

Every bid needs to have a contingency plan in case something goes wrong. This project needs to have a detailed alternative to compensate for issues that may arise during construction. Options should include what to do if there are mechanical difficulties with equipment. Downtime due to broken tools can make it difficult to complete a project on-time and on-budget. You need to spell out if there will be someone on site to help repair the equipment or if you have backup machinery you plan to use.

Power failures can also cause problems for your construction project. Like a breakdown, power loss will put you behind schedule. A plan to have alternative power supplies available keeps you on track to finish on time.

Your set budget is important. Clients don't like to have surprises in budgets, which is why when you submit your budget proposal, you should include what percentage of it has been allotted for your contingency plan. Your budget should not leave you high and dry if the plan deviates. Clients want you to be paid, the project to be completed and for no extra costs from them to arise. Be realistic and allow for changes.


During the bidding process, you need to have samples of completed projects. Include a list of previous clients that the city can contact for references to your work.

If large-scale projects are typical for the company, make sure to highlight that fact. Cities need to know that you are equipped to complete complex work. Include examples of all types of work, even if some of the jobs were trenchless constructions instead of trenchless repair.

Cover your methods of construction. Do you use horizontal directional drilling, have you used auger boring in your projects? Clients will want to know the kind of equipment and machinery you are working with like the various tunnel boring machines or drilling rigs you propose using in the project.

Miscellaneous Necessary Bid Info

There are a few other items that each bid should include.


Having an insurance policy is an integral part of owning a construction company. Make the provider information available in your bid so the city can verify the plan and go over your coverage.

Deviation Plans

You need to consider having a deviation plan in place. Deviations include unexpected underground conditions not initially picked up on in the survey. It can also be a sudden change on the ground. (Read also: Working With Drilling Deviations)

Even though your contingency plan may consider deviations, when one comes up, you need to resurvey the area to come up with a new project. The deviation plan should include how you will complete the survey to address changes.

Bidding on a contract is not just about pricing the job right where the city will hire you and still make money. It is about putting the right light on the business so that those in charge see what an asset the company is.

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Written by Denise Sullivan | Technical Writer @ Trenchlesspedia

Denise Sullivan

Denise Sullivan is an accomplished freelance writer from Louisiana, with a Associate's Degree in Journalism from Eastern Oklahoma State College. She also graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's in Biology. Denise began her writing career writing operations and maintenance manuals and software utility manuals for flight simulators. Since, she has expanded her writing to a broad spectrum of topics.

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