“We will have to get a cover price on this one,” said the chief estimator. I was then a mere baby to this building lark.
“What’s a cover price,” I whispered. “It’s what we do when we are up to our whatnots in work but don’t want to appear disinterested.”
Let me tell you all I know about cover pricing. First, it was ever so rare. Second, I never heard of money changing hands.
We fought tooth and nail to get on tender lists, so it’s balderdash to imagine we didn’t want the next job. So why cover? Because we were so busy, we didn’t have time to bid properly.
So, was the client cheated?
Not a jot. He’d still get seven bids – it would be a massive coincidence if seven of the eight were too busy to bid.
What’s the alternative? Instead of seeking a cover a busy builder will bid, but price himself out.
But tell me builders are in on a conspiracy and I’ll give you a rude rebuff. That’s baloney! If I am wrong, tell me which prison these folk go to and I will eat my safety helmet in front of the bars. Meanwhile, baloney!
Tony Bingham is a barrister. For more on the OFT inquiry go to www.building.co.uk/oftinvestigation