Mastering Invitation To Bid In Construction To Attract The Right Offer

Written by Bridget Cooper

DateDec 12, 2023
Reading time10 min read

The success of every construction project depends on many things, but finding the right contractors towers above all. Contractor or subcontractor selection starts by crafting an effective Invitation to Bid document (ITB). The process is tedious, requiring someone with proper knowledge and experience to formulate one. 

It becomes more complex for first-time project owners, as many don’t know what to include in the document and how to attract suitable contractors. 

That’s what we will cover in this guide, including how to create a detailed ITB for an effective bidding process. 

After reading the guide, you’ll have a clear idea of how to create an ITB, strategies to find the right contractor, and how to automate the entire process and handle bid management. 

What is an Invitation to Bid Construction?

An ITB is an official document by a project owner to contractors, inviting them to submit bids for the upcoming construction project. It could be private or federal construction projects. The one in charge of the project includes crucial details like minimum qualifications, submission guidelines, duration, and scope of the project in the document. 

The purpose of an ITB is to solicit bids from contractors or subcontractors and award the project to one who can complete the project on time, for a fair price, and by adhering to all quality standards. 

Many in the construction industry have had a problem distinguishing between an Invitation to Bid (ITB) and a Request for Proposal (RFP). Many even use them to mean the same thing, but there are some distinctions. Let’s see how the two differ.

Differences Between ITB and RFP

An ITB is a sealed construction bidding process where the project’s objectives are defined and detailed with clear goals and outcomes. The key determinant of an ITB is the price since the owner of the project has outlined the designs and process to complete the project. A winning construction bid is awarded to the lowest bidder. 

An RFP, or Request for Proposal, is mostly for complex projects like cities, stadiums, or other special construction plans. The owner of these projects has predetermined the designs and desired outcomes but hasn’t formulated a detailed process to complete them. That’s where the contractors come in with their bids. The winning bid doesn’t rely on price alone but on the experience and the means to complete the project. 

Now that we have a rough idea of an ITB let’s look at what is included in this document. 

Common Components to Include in an ITB

Every ITB is different depending on the type of project, but here are some common components you should expect in an ITB:

Project Description

The owner of the project creates a brief description of the project, including the project name and location. There’re also the names of the owner and their contact details, project objectives, and background. The project description determines the entire bidding process, as it gives crucial details about the specific construction project.

Scope of Work

An ITB includes an in-depth breakdown of the entire project, including any special requirements, deliverables, and tasks. Project details help the contractor understand what’s required of them, helping them prepare for the project in advance. The construction project. scope of work is a minimum ITB requirement in the construction industry.

Detailed Specifications

The document contains the project’s technical requirements that every contractor must cover. Such details could include materials used, designs, functionality, dimensions, and other details that are necessary to the project. They help a contractor visualize the project and submit a bid proposal that covers the entire project in detail. 


An ITB contains the project’s architectural plans and drawings showcasing the system requirements and layouts for the desired design. This way, a contractor can plan for the personnel and experience required for the project. Clear and detailed drawings explains the project in depth, helping contractors understand the designs better. Ensure the drawings are accurate and cover the project entirely, as the construction industry is not a place for errors.


It states the expected deadline for the project with an acceptable extension period. The timelines help the contractor plan the project, including manpower and working hours. Reasonable dealines are favorable and might trigger a construction bidding war from suitable bidders.

Terms and Conditions

The binding terms and conditions help navigate the project, including payment terms, resolving disputes, and insurance requirements to keep the project running smoothly. It's best to hire an attorney to help out with this section.

Submission Guidelines

This section helps contractors understand the construction bid requirements, including how to prepare and submit one, the documents required for qualification, and the project deadline. 

Selection Criteria

Contractors learn the criteria of an acceptable bid, including fulfilling requirements, technical expertise, experience, price, and performance capabilities. 

An ITB is an initial contact between project owners and contractors where they define the project and expectations. It also helps to sort out those capable of delivering the project. 

Now that we know what to expect in an ITB, let’s look at the strategies that maximize the ITB’s benefits. 

ITB Strategies Every Project Owner Must Consider

While creating a good ITB is a requirement, a project owner must have a strategy that will guarantee the ITB’s effectiveness in reaching the right bidders. They include:

Market Research for the Right Contractor

Identifying potential contractors is vital to maximizing the chances of landing the right one. Doing so ensures that you don’t waste time interviewing unsuitable contractors, as many projects are time-sensitive. The best way to achieve this is through online platforms that function as directories for construction contractors. You can also contact local agencies, other project owners, or local government offices for recommendations based on past performance and experience. 

You should only send bid invitations to contractors with a proven track record and success in their completed projects.

Start by Prequalifying Suitable Bids

Consider a prequalification process to help you avoid unsuitable contractors by outlining the project requirements. These requirements could include past project performance, financial capabilities, the ability to observe safety standards, and technical capabilities aligning with the project. The project owner must send a Request for Qualifications, RFQ, document to prequalifying bidders, asking them to provide these details. 

By offering an RFQ, the construction owner targets the right contractors that submit winning bids. These contractors determine the outcome of the construction projects, as most of them will be experienced and will be working with accurate project details in an ITB form. 

Ensure you Have Clear Bidding Documents for Contractors

All bidding documents need to include detailed project information, including how to bid and the project requirements. Unclear or poorly written bid documents create confusion, making contractors understand the project differently. Doing so leads to misaligned bids, time-wasting through delays, and unnecessary expenses to rectify the documents and submit the ITB the second time. 

It also turns down potential bidders as they’ll have to go through the project planning process again or decide to take on a different project altogether. Ensure all bid invitations have accurate and well-defined details before submitting them.

Craft a Detailed Scope of Work for Clarity

A detailed scope of work helps contractors understand the project, including the milestones, deadline, and cost. With this information, contractors can then estimate or run a construction cost analysis and timeline of the project. 

A scope of work also ensures the contractor plans for every project aspect since they have all the information they need. It also helps target competitive and accurate bids that align with the project objectives, helping to ease the contractor selection process. 

Come up with Clear Project Timelines and Milestones

Clear milestones and timelines help contractors plan their projects appropriately allocating resources to their workers. It also comes in handy when scheduling tasks to accommodate the construction contract. However, the timeline and milestones should be attainable for a contractor to achieve under normal working situations. The plan should also take into account unexpected challenges that might delay delivery. Delays like skilled worker shortages, unforeseeable weather changes, and a disruption in the supply chain are usually the most common in this line of work. 

Let’s consider an example of government contracts. Most of them are time-sensitive as they’re funded by public resources. Any prolonged delays would require more funding and attract public inquiries and scrutiny.

Defining Evaluation Criteria

Transparency is crucial to any procurement process. It helps prospective bidders understand the project and create customized proposals that cover the entire project’s specifications. You must indicate which aspects are crucial to the project. It should cover the specific project approach, suitable past experience and success with a similar project, and cost to help contractors plan effectively. It also increases the chances of receiving targeted and high-quality bids from interested contractors.

Creating an ITB for a construction project is not an easy process due to the amount of details needed. The back-and-forth communication and bid selection process also require proper planning and experience to execute effectively.

We offer a bid invitation template you can make a copy and use.

However, that’s where Downtobid and automation comes in handy. The automation process is effective in bid management since it can all be done from one place.

How to Automate the ITB Creation Process

Thanks to innovative technology, automating every ITB creation process is now possible. The automation process ensures a construction owner doesn’t miss out on crucial project details, provides clear and defined project information, enhances communication, and saves time. 

Downtobid provides features:

  • AI-Powered Bid Package Detection: Downtobid uses artificial intelligence to automatically identify bid packages within construction plans. This feature streamlines the process of determining what needs to be bid on and assists in organizing the bidding process more efficiently.
  • Automated Subcontractor Invitation Process: The platform facilitates the creation and sending of personalized invitations to bid (ITBs) to subcontractors. This automation helps in matching the identified bid packages with the most suitable subcontractors, making sure that the right contractors are invited to bid on relevant parts of the project.
  • Efficient Project Management: Downtobid enhance the efficiency of the pre-construction phase. Its features aid in managing the project's early stages more effectively, through improved organization and communication.

You can read more why Downtobid is the best bid invitation software.

The collaborative feature provides a centralized workspace accessible to all bidders to streamline the bidding process. Downtobid provides smart follow-ups through personalized messages to your bidders.

Final Thoughts

An ITB is the initial contact between owners and contractors regarding a construction project. It sheds light on the entire project, helping contractors understand and bid on the project successfully. It helps estimate the project timeline and cost, helping them take the necessary steps to complete the project within the budget and on time. Project owners must strategize by creating a prequalified process to target the right contractors for bid invitations. They should also maintain transparency throughout the process to promote a fair business and future contracts from suitable contractors.

Written by Bridget CooperUpdated on Feb 23, 2024

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