The Best Bid Preparation Software For Preconstruction: Downtobid

Written by Bridget Cooper

DateApr 10, 2024
Reading time9 min read
Downtobid homepage

When it comes to bid preparation, you'll need to consider the costs of materials, time frame and labor needed to complete the project bid. Getting the estimates for every spec of a project's plans used to be a very difficult process. Nowadays, there are AI tools like Downtobid to help you get full bid coverage in a matter of minutes. We'll show you how to use our AI tool and give you reasons why we're considered the best bid preparation software on the market.

Note: Keep in mind that the awarding of a bid doesn’t necessarily go to the lowest bidder. It’s given to the company who shows they are most capable of meeting the specific requirements of the bid. Accurate bid estimations reflect a company's expertise and understanding of the project requirements and help you win more projects. With Downtobid, you can get 100% bid coverage, send bid invites to relevant contractors and manage all of the bid proposals in one place. Win more contracts with accurate and complete bid coverage. Click here to try us for free today.

How Can Downtobid Help With Bid Preparation?

Getting through the initial stages of the preparation bid process, such as the first review of complex construction drawings to identify necessary trades, can be difficult, take a lot of time and are prone to errors. Although specifications books offer some guidance, general contractors and subcontractors often rely on drawings for their bids. Our software uses AI to help estimators in identifying all trades outlined in construction plans and show any inconsistencies and contradictions within those plans.

While straightforward projects may not present much of a challenge, more complex projects often need manual review of each drawing to ensure accuracy. This can slow down the bidding process and delay submitting bids.

Our AI tools can simplify this process, providing support to estimators by:

  • Thoroughly indexing and analyzing each plan sheet
  • Highlighting important construction callouts, notes, schedules, and linking them to their specific pages
  • Compiling this data into clear, concise scope summaries for an efficient review by estimators

Our software hopes to achieve two primary objectives:

  • Achieve complete scope coverage
  • Boost subcontractor engagement and bid scope.

AI Co-Pilot with Downtobid

Even when supported by a large team, overlooking crucial details in the project documents can easily jeopardize the entire construction bidding process. Outsourcing this review work causes additional expenses. Downtobid's AI offers a fast and precise solution, capable of scrutinizing hundreds of documents for errors and completeness without taking on any extra costs.

Our software also plays a strong role in aligning bid packages with appropriate subcontractors, facilitating connections between contractors and the right subcontractors to ensure comprehensive coverage and eliminate scope gaps. This advancement eliminates the need for contractors to rely on standardized bid invitation templates and manually sift through bids to identify the most suitable subcontractor.

In the next section, we will show you how our bid preparation platform works.

How To Use Downtobid To Assist With Estimating

If you're interested in experiencing it firsthand, feel free to upload your own plan sets at the following link.

Upload Plans

First, upload your construction plans onto our platform.

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The AI carefully reviews each page of your plan set, analyzing it for scope and assembling the bid packages. This process typically ranges from 10 to 30 minutes, varying with the complexity of your project. Upon completion, you will be notified via email.

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Bid Packages And Scopes

After logging in, you will be presented with a comprehensive list of all the bid packages generated by the AI copilot. For each page, it produces a straightforward scope sheet that includes:

  • A general overview of the bid package.
  • Every occurrence where it identified scope within the plans.
  • A curated list of recommended, locally qualified subcontractors for potential invitation.

Analyze The AI Scope Identification

Here's an example of us uploading project plans for a new Discount Tire project

We have a video tutorial of how to use our AI tool to assist with estimating.

Or you can click this link to follow along.

We'll go through each step below.

For our example, the AI tool took approximately 6 minutes to thoroughly process the plan set, reading over 40 sheets.

metal sheet

We achieved the following:

  • It autonomously identified 31 potential scopes.
  • It generated concise summaries for each identified scope.
  • It highlighted various pieces of evidence directly on the drawings.

Although the identification of 31 scopes may appear excessive for this project, some may be false positives. However, this serves as a valuable foundation for deeper analysis.

We first accessed the Metal Fabrications section and noted that there's a highlighted reference to sheet metal in the Mechanical Plans.

Based on this note, we can see the potential scopes or sub-scopes that may apply:

  • Ductwork - It explicitly calls out supply air "DUCTWORK SHALL INCLUDE 1/2" THICK INTERIOR THERMAL AND ACOUSTIC LINERS" as part of the scope.

Overall, the scope appears to be rather basic and broad. So I'll move on to the HVAC scope to check for more detailed information.

more details

It redirects me to the Mechanical plans, which feature significantly more highlights. At a quick glance, it's evident that:

  • The heading specifies "MECHANICAL KEYED NOTES", with "mechanical" usually indicating HVAC systems.
  • The document includes annotations on adjusting or confirming the positions of existing air devices, thermostats, ducts, heat pumps, and smoke detectors, all associated with HVAC systems.
  • There's a reference to "COMPLETE TOILET EXHAUST DUCT SYSTEMS", which is a part of HVAC ventilation.

The provided details help ensure full project scope and bid coverage by outlining specific HVAC system requirements, from equipment specifications to ventilation needs. This helps you in identifying all necessary components and work, including modifications and installations, allowing for a more accurate bid that covers every aspect of the project's HVAC demands.

Improving Response Rates With Our AI Tool

Although pinpointing scopes is a great first step, getting responses from subcontractors is another hurdle you'll have to overcome. Full scope coverage alone does not guarantee successful bids. The repetitive cycle of inviting, calling, re-inviting, and re-calling takes a long time for estimators but here's how our tool simplifies this.

Matching project requirements with subcontractors with the right experience in the relevant scope and complexity is important to improve response rates. Our tool provides a curated selection of recommended, locally qualified subcontractors available for invitation based on your scope sheet.

If you're a General Contractor with a personal list, you have the option to invite your preferred subcontractors. Or you can use the subcontractor network provided by us. We leverage multiple verification sources, like Google Maps and local groups, to make sure our data is as fresh as possible.

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Our tool improves response rates by:

Attention-Grabbing Subject Lines

Our tool avoids generic titles like "Bid Invite: [PROJECT]." Instead, we use project-specific details such as size, type, and location to pique interest and improve open rates.

More Personalized Bid Invites

We extend personalization beyond just using names. Our tool offers customized scope summaries and emphasize the qualifications that make the specific subcontractor a good fit.

Subcontractor-Friendly Plan Rooms

We ensure easy access to plans without requiring account creation, avoid overwhelming with multiple versions of plan sets or preliminary qualification forms, and simplify the focus to help subcontractors quickly understand the project scope.

Consistent Follow-Ups

We limit reminders to 2-3 well-spaced follow-ups based on the bid timeline to show respect for subcontractors' time while underscoring your interest in the project.

Soliciting Bids

Our tool makes it easy to solicit bids. Based on the project plan scan and scopes, we compile a customized selection of local, pre-screened subcontractors aligned by their specific expertise.

Downtobid will crafted individualized bid invitations featuring captivating subject lines and straightforward scope overviews.

Not only that, the AI generates a recommended bidding timeline, ensuring your Invitations to Bid (ITBs) are emailed at the most effective times. These ITBs feature tailored information and a concise scope overview, allows subcontractors to easily assess if the project aligns with their expertise, bypassing the need to comb through extensive plans. The system automatically arranges any required follow-up actions, with the scheduling and frequency fine-tuned in response to the approaching proposal deadline.

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Easy Planroom Access

We created a user-friendly, seamless plan room for easy document retrieval without the need for logins.

Subcontractors can quickly view only the drawings relevant to their scope of work. The fast performance and automatic splitting of sheets simplifies the process for them to qualify construction jobs.


Measure Intent With Our Tool

Instead of depending on button clicks, our AI analyzes each reply and Planroom engagement to assess a subcontractor's intent to bid and their level of interest. Through this method, we're able to automatically generate more precise coverage metrics, rooted in platform interactions.


All emails are redirected to your personal inbox, ensuring you never need to exit your email environment to reply to any messages.

User Results

Users have approximately 30% more responses on average with our approach. In fact, here are some initial results from Downtobid clients using our AI-based process. A response rate above 60% and more than 80 bids for a single project.

60% Response Rate

Wrapping Up

If you are gearing up for a project, Downtobid can help speed things up. You can dissect construction plans, identify all the scopes for the project, invite relevant subcontractors, manage the emails--all in one centralized location. Test our tool today and discover just how quickly we can streamline your project preparation and execution.

Written by Bridget CooperUpdated on Apr 10, 2024

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