Rather than deal with trade partners’ various bid sheets that might be created using different estimating systems and/or methodologies — some even written on scratch paper — Loren Schirber, owner of Castle Building & Remodeling, in Minneapolis and St. Paul, had his estimator create a trade partner bid sheet.

It’s helpful, particularly when there are multiple bids given for a single category. “This way we can compare apples to apples,” says Schirber, who has been using the system for the past year.

After a client pays the design fee and makes all the material selections, Schirber takes trade partners on a site visit. He then gives each trade a copy of the plans, a set of specifications, and the bid sheet.

Each trade partner gets a personalized sheet such as the one above, which is for carpenters. A second page provides space for suggestions and any extra information such as parts of the job that need to meet code.

Trade partners have no problem filling out the form, Schirber says, and “it lets us break down the numbers for the clients more easily. That’s the crucial point.”

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.


1. Clear Categories

There are more than two dozen categories on the bid sheet. The categories shown pertain to carpenters. “In the past, they might look at a job and say it’s $10,000. Now they have to break it down: millwork, installing cabinets, framing, etc.,” says company owner Loren Schirber.

2. Additional Information

While doing the walk-through, trade partners may find items that need code upgrades, for example, or they may want to make other suggestions.

3. Costs

Schirber breaks things down by “man-hours” so that homeowners can see how long different aspects of the job will take.

4. Big Picture

Schirber and clients can compare apples to apples, instead of receiving some bids done in QuickBooks and some on scratch pads or sent via e-mail. “When we give the bid to the client, we break it down by category so they can understand the cost involved in the project.”