Criteria for selecting suppliers

Research site suppliers for extension project

As project manager, you can greatly improve the chances of a successful project outcome by implementing a proven set of criteria for selecting suppliers. Here is a process to help with this:

  • 1.List the services comprising your project
  • Site Design
  • Planning
  • Groundworks
  • PM
  • Shell
  • Glazing
  • Roof
  • Kitchen


2.For each major service, list the component services and indicate the level of Need
Using the major service Groundworks as an example:

  • Setting out need
  • Excavation regulatory
  • Utilities regulatory
  • Foundations regulatory
  • RC slab regulatory
  • Access need
  • Driveway want

3.Identify the types of provider

Using the component service Settting Out as an example:

  • Setting Out
  • Chartered Surveyor
  • Groundworks firm
  • Main contractor
  • DIY

4.Select the Supplier
This requires you to go through each of the services in order to specify who will deliver that service.

Using the major service Groundworks as an example:

  • Setting out need is DIY
  • Excavation regulatory is DIY
  • Utilities regulatory is Specialist Electrical Services firm
  • Foundations regulatory is Groundworks firm
  • RC slab regulatory is Groundworks firm
  • Access need is DIY
  • Lake want is DIY

The excavation works are regulatory to the extent that a Building Inspector needs to approve the depth before the foundations are laid. If you are confident that you can safely perform the excavation works on a DIY basis, this is perfectly acceptable.

5.Obtain costings for each service
The costings for some services are easily comparable. For example, quotations for the connection of the electricity supply can be compared on the basis of cost and availability to do the work. Quotations for the installation and supply of the window units have additional variables to consider. These include whether it is double or triple-glazed, the type of gas used, the type of glass, the surface finish and whether fitting is included.

For some services, you will find that some companies will only quote for a set of services rather than just one of them. For example, there are groundworks companies who will quote for setting out, excavation and foundations as one price which is not divisible. Similarly, some window manufacturers will only provide a supply-and-fit price, which prevents you from saving money by organising the fitting yourself.

6.Check total cost of Build Route against budget
If cost is not acceptable, repeat steps 1 to 4,
If cost is acceptable, go to Step 6

7.Appoint the Supplier

Every industry has a few members who, for whatever reason, fail to deliver services of the expected quality. You can help protect yourself from rogue providers in the construction industry by doing the following:

Record your communications
When dealing with suppliers, follow up your meetings or phone-calls with an email confirming the salient points. If you request a quote, put the detail of your request in writing.

Use references
Don’t just take references. Follow them up, preferably by securing an invitation to view the houses built or the services supplied. This will allow you to assess the quality of materials and workmanship that has gone into the building. It is also an opportunity to speak to the house owners to see what kind of experience they had with the supplier.

Get a quote/fixed price in writing
Clarify whether you have agreed a Fixed Price or a Quote – get it in writing. Don’t expect your suppliers to remember the fantastically low quote they gave you to secure the work. ALWAYS get their quote in writing and ensure that any VAT applicable is included in the quote. If you get a written quote and it is unclear about the scope of work provided for the price, ask for clarity. If you are still unsure, seek advice.

Assume the worst
Ensure that your contract includes processes to handle matters when things go wrong. Typically, these are risks such as the supplier going into bankruptcy or the project is not completed within a stated period of time.

Shell Package
If services are bundled together in a “package” with a single price, you will find it difficult to compare packages from different suppliers as there is very little consistency in package formats. As a result, it is near impossible to compare like-for-like.