PJM Section 5 Quiz

Can someone explain the correct answer to this question? How do bid alternates give the contractor wiggle room in their bid? Once construction starts, wouldn’t the contractor and owner have a signed contract that lists which alternates, if any, were chosen?

Hi @bkolk !

That’s a great question! Bid alternates allow the contractor to bid individual items separately and the client can then choose which alternates they would like to include in the project after the full bid comes in. For example, I’m working on a Transportation & Maintenance facility and we have a building that will be used for Covered Equipment Storage. The client wanted to see overhead doors as a bid alternate so they could choose whether or not they wanted to include them in the project after they saw the bid prices of that individual item because they were going to be a high cost item. This gives both the contractor and the client wiggle room when it comes to project cost. And yes, once construction starts the contractor and owner will have agreed upon which bid alternates (if any) they’d like to include in the project. Thanks!


Hi @coachrebeccasmith . I’m confused with what you mean by “wiggle room” for the contractor. I understand how the owner has wiggle room to accept or reject alternates depending on the cost of the base bids. But how does the contractor have wiggle room? Once the contract is signed, the contractor knows their fees. So if an issue were to come up during construction, the contractor would be locked into that fee and can’t change it. Right?

Hi @bkolk !

Thanks for the follow up. I definitely see what you mean, typically bid alternates are decided by the owner prior to construction so the contractor can order/submit whatever items would be included in the bid alternates during the CA phase.

@coachchrishopstock , would you mind weighing in on the explanation to the answer above?


Hi @bkolk thanks for the question and thanks @coachrebeccasmith for the helpful input!

AIA A101 allows for alternates to be accepted after the execution of the contract (4.2.2) as well as at the time of contract execution (4.2.1). Allowing for alternates allows the contractor some leeway when building the project - if issues arise with the procurement of a particular item and an alternate is available, they can bring the issue to the project team and see if the alternate can be used instead.

I feel that when the architect allows for alternates in their design, it sets a tone of collaboration amongst the project team as opposed to the architect saying ‘the only correct way to build this building is exactly as I have drawn it’. This is what this question is getting at.

Regarding test-taking strategy, the other 3 choices to this question either are unrealistic (switching to DB, for example, because the project is DBB), would create additional liability for the architect (additional inspections), or wouldn’t actually reduce conflict and may increase it (designer performing CA). Given the available choices, including alternates in the bid is the best answer here. There are certainly even better options to reduce conflict during construction that aren’t choices - performing proactive CA probably being the best option. Remember that ‘which of the following would…’ type questions are asking you to evaluate the four choices against each other, and the best answer to the question may not be an available choice.

Thanks again and good luck on your next exam!

1 Like

@coachchrishopstock Ok, I’m still trying to understand here. I think where I’m getting confused is the term “Bid Alternates”.

The way I understand it, the bid alternates need to be fully designed. After all, we need an apples-to-apples comparison of the bids. So no collaboration would happen at this time.

However, once the contract is awarded, the architect could ask for either value engineering options or substitution requests. This is where the collaboration and cost savings happen, which would give the contractor wiggle room in their profits. But the phrase “Bid Alternates” doesn’t seem like the right term to use in this situation.