It is sad to see that some Yorkshire authorities are proposing to use a big stick to beat contractors over cover pricing (29 January, page 9)

If they want the best from their suppliers, they need to work co-operatively and understand what makes them tick – and that includes their estimating departments. Cover pricing comes from estimators who are scared that they will lose their firm a regular client.

It is easy to say that the estimator’s role is just to calculate the labour, plant and materials, then add overheads and mark-up. However, the varied nature of bids for the same project should indicate to an enlightened client that there is much more to it than that.

Clients need to understand this balancing process, discuss programming in advance with potential tenderers, be realistic about their own programmes and not take umbrage if a contractor says “no thanks this time, but please ask me another time”. A rushed tender is no good to either client or contractor.

Janet Wood