Thursday, August 2, 2018

Iowa DBE Commitments Spreadsheet

Linked below is a spreadsheet of the Iowa DOT DBE Commitments that I have compiled from April 2013 thru July 2018.  You can use it see what kinds of work has been contracted to DBE contractors.  What type of work does a particular Prime contractor sub out to DBE contractors?  Is there a trend to the work being contracted?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Subcontractor bid form

All contractors have their own bid form that they have developed.  There are some basic things that I think a bid form should include:
  • Keep it to one page (if you can) & one job per bid
  • Clearly show your company name, name, and cell number in case there are questions
  • Include the letting date, call order, contract ID, & county
  • List the bid items in the same order as the Iowa DOT bid proposal
  • Don't need to put the name of the prime contractor on each bid (that can be a lot of work and paper)
  • Do track who you have faxed or emailed a quote
  • Always follow up a verbal revision with a written quote
  • Send out your sub bid to prime contractors a day prior to the letting
Below is a picture of the excel bid form that can be download:  bidform.xlsx

PDF files and the software to work with them

Because the use of paper documents is phasing out it has become more important to know how to work with computer files.  The most common form of file to share information is the PDF document.  For example, all Iowa DOT plans, specifications, manuals, addendum use the PDF format. 

I think there are 3 main levels of working with PDF files View and Print, Create, Edit.

View & Print - Most computers come with a free pdf reader like Acrobat Reader to open files and print.  Some of the forms that the Iowa DOT uses can only be opened using Acrobat Reader.  If you try to open these files you will get this error.

Create - You need to be able to create your own PDF document.  For example you could use Microsoft Excel to create your subcontract proposal but you should convert it to a pdf before you email it out.  Why?  The recipient may not have the same software as you and can't open it.  Also a spreadsheet can be changed while a pdf is more permanent.  You can create a PDF with Adobe Reader or PDFCreator

Edit - To be able to highlight, add notes, or mark-up a PDF you need a PDF editor.  The original editor is Adobe Acrobat which costs about $600.  I use Bluebeam Revu.  It costs $350 plus it has functions like on-screen measurements and approval stamps.

For example you could markup a handicap ramp with dimensions, elevations and slopes from a table to create a plan that a crew could use in the field. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

New Wage Rates

For the January 17, 2018 letting the predetermined wage rates will be changed by addendum.  Bidx has the new wage posted on their website.  I have copied them and provided links below.

Below are some other Davis Bacon forms you might find useful.

Fringe Benefits

Friday, November 17, 2017

Federal Biz Opps

Federal agencies are required to advertise all opportunities over $25,000 on a website called or  This site has been running since 2001 and I have used it to search for construction contracting and engineering work over the years.  While the site is still a little hard to navigate I do think it has gotten better over the years.  I couple of things that have helped me:
  • Use "Watched Opportunities" to save projects.  Federal jobs change project IDs and can be shelved for years.  Watched opportunities will help you find the project at a later date.
  • The site also has a search agent function that you can set up.  Put in the parameters of your search - type of work, location, agency, will search and send you an email if it finds a match.
  • will ask you to change change your password every 3 months.  Do it when you see the email notice.
One project that I found was a new 250 car parking ramp for VA hospital in Des Moines.  It is a service disabled veteran owned set aside that will be bid on Dec 5th.  The link to job on is