Step 5: Design & Construction

NCRP Toolbox Navigation

NCRP Toolbox Main Cycle Step 1 Cycle Step 2 Cycle Step 3 Cycle Step 4 Cycle Step 5 Cycle Step 6
Once the overall project concept is finalized and funding is secured, the final design and construction phase can commence. During this phase, the most significant capital outlays occur and, depending on the timing of funding, it may be necessary to secure short term interim financing to begin. Timing of design and construction depends on the overall financing package, program deadlines, and other factors.
Complete Design and Construction

The design process should be a collaborative effort where utility operators are working with design professionals and regulators to configure final plans and specifications to meet local needs as well as regulatory requirements. The requirements of the construction contract depend on local agency or Tribe contracting requirements, the public contract code, and specific requirements of the funding agencies.

The toolbox elements summarized in this section provide assistance to small agencies in hiring the professionals needed to help a District throughout the Utility Management Cycle and provides an overview of the process for the public bidding of construction projects.

Toolbox Elements to Complete Final Design and Construction

Toolbox Element Description
Guidance for Hiring Professionals As a project moves from initial planning towards implementation, detailed, community-specific designs are required and communities will need to retain professional support.
Public Bidding Process Overview Understanding how the public bidding process works, how to set up a successful project bid, and how the low bid contractor is selected.

The following sections provide more information about each toolbox element.

Guidance for Hiring Professionals

Guidance for Hiring Professionals

Small communities will likely need professional assistance at various points throughout the Utility Management Cycle. The need for professional assistance may be relatively small during times of simple ongoing operations. However, when evaluating issues, planning solutions, securing funding, and implementing projects, a small community will likely be making extensive use of professionals. Professionals should be hired on the basis of their qualifications, experience, and approach to effectively provide the technical services needed by the community to achieve project goals. Once the best consultant is selected, then a detailed scope, schedule, and budget for services should be agreed upon.

Guidance is available to help small communities through the process of hiring and managing professionals to both meet the needs of the community and comply with applicable requirements associated with hiring professionals.

Learn more


Additional Resources

The following is a link to resources developed by the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) to assist planning a project:

Public Bidding Process Overview

Professional consultants should be selected based on qualifications, unlike construction contracts, which are typically approached differently. Where public funds are involved, construction contracts, which are usually based on the plans, specifications and contract documents prepared by a professional consultant, are generally awarded based on the California Public Contract Code. The process is usually in the form of a public bid. Bidding and the awarding of contracts on public projects is regulated by the state of California. This is governed by the Public Contract Code of the California Law.

This tool directs agencies and Tribes to key provisions that may contain useful information regarding this code. This section should only be used for informative purposes. These are opinions, and any issues regarding the Public Contract Code are legal issues and require legal advice and/or representation.

Learn more

Information on the Bidding Process

There are many things to consider when putting a contract out to bid. The Public Contract Code is the regulatory document covering the bidding process. [First you must look for the appropriate section for your specific agency. (i.e. Part 2 of the Public Contract Code is for state agencies where part 3 is for local agencies.)] Also, your project funders may have specific requirements for certain documents to be included in the bid package, or certain processes to be followed. Therefore, it is good to check with your funder on what their requirements are. Here are some additional items to consider.

Before putting a project out to bid, ensure the wording is consistent throughout the entire package (specifications included).

  • Agencies should consider configuring the project to have a base bid, additive items, and deductive items to help create a project that fits within available funding.
  • On the bid sheet, make sure to identify how “low bid” is determined. Typically this is the base bid,
    plus all additive items, minus all deductive items, which ensures cost competitiveness on all items.
  • Make sure to have a backup plan if the actual low bid award amount is more than the available funding.
  • Include a written process in the specifications for bid protests that only allows actual bidders to protest and requires that they be in writing and submitted within 48 hours of the bid opening.
    Consult legal counsel as needed.
  • Though not always mandated, pre-bid walkthroughs are a good idea in order to increase
    contractor understanding.
  • Bids must be advertised in a widely distributed publication for a minimum of two weeks. Many agencies however, choose to do it for longer in order to increase the number of bids they receive and keep the process competitive (up to 5 weeks for large projects). Also, some funding agencies require a minimum of 30 days.
  • It is important to consider how widely you want your project advertised. It is often worthwhile to increase your area beyond local contractors. Providing a copy of the bid package to your local and surrounding building exchanges is recommended. A list of some building exchanges worth considering is located in this section under Local Building Exchanges.
  • After a project has been put out to bid, make sure that all contractor questions and changes are addressed through addenda. Addenda need to be distributed to all contractors who are involved in the bidding process in order to ensure everyone has the same information.
  • Make sure that addenda are not issued too close to the opening of a bid. The Public Contract Code requires a minimum of 72 hours to allow contractors time to adjust their bids if need be.
  • When reviewing the bids, it is important to document all decisions in case your bid awarding practices are questioned later.
Additional Resources

Local Building Exchanges

Humboldt Builder’s Exchange

1213 5th Street
Eureka, CA 95501
707-442-3708 tel
707-442-6051 fax

Last Confirmed: 2023

North Coast Builders Exchange

1030 Apollo Way
PO Box 8070
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
707-542-9502 tel
707-542-2027 fax

Last Confirmed: 2023

Shasta Builders Exchange

5800 Airport Road
Redding, CA 96002
530-221-5556 tel
530-221-2140 fax

Last Confirmed: 2023

San Francisco Builders Exchange

850 South Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94110
415-282-8220 tel
415-821-0363 fax

Last Confirmed: 2023

Sacramento Builders Exchange

1331 T Street
Sacramento, CA 95811
916-442-8991 tel
916-446-3117 fax

Last Confirmed: 2023