This egg is wrapped in plastic so it looks good until you open it and what is on the inside often is determined by price, quality and features and low bidders often have issues.
Recently I bid out a project with 26 doors of access control with readers and locks that allow you to delete access or limit access of when people can get into the building and at what times or days. I have not included every aspect of pricing access control systems because not only would it be a longer article but it would be harder to read and understand.
My bid was $54,000 dollars the low bidder came in at $30,000 with the next lowest bid at $36,000 dollars. When I found out that the other bidders were so much lower I sat down with my manager and we went over the pricing point by point to see if I had really messed up the estimate and what we found was that we had not, it was done properly. It remains to be seen although what will most likely occur is that the winning bidder who was chosen solely on price will either put in inferior equipment or seek out change orders. A similar thing recently happened with a fire alarm bid and the fire marshal told us the winning bidder was seeking a $50,000 dollar change order.
Normally on access control we tell people that an access door costs around $1,800 to $2,200 per door depending on the distance and the door type. In this bid the customer had specified a $4,500 dollar double sided color card printer so that put us around $50,000 and the $30,000 bid around $25,000 or half of the cost. I highly doubt they were doing it out of the goodness of their heart because at that price it was under the our actual cost without any profit. I understood that my cost would be about $3,000 high because I had to add extra money for overtime since we are so busy and to meet their deadline of the end of June we needed to rearrange our schedule.
Here are some of the factors of an access control system:
1. Special composite access control cable over 900 dollars per 1000 feet so if you have 5 doors at 200 feet you will need 1 roll for every 5 doors. 26 doors came out to 4 rolls with the distances which came to almost $4,000 just for cable without labor.
2. 26 Readers which happened to be Iclass readers meeting the new government requirements $144 each without labor or $3,744 for 26.
3. Locks – maglocks don’t have moving parts so they last longer than electronic strikes which release and allow free egress but maglocks also require that you tie the system into the fire alarm and add a request to exit motion and or request to exit button. But average cost per lock is around $250 dollars each or in this case 25 times $250 or $6,250 without labor. One of the readers will tie to the elevator so there was one without a lock.
4. Power Supplies and Controllers also have to be added and this is the brains of the system. Per door this normally runs about $500 including the power supplies and controllers excluding the computer. So $13,000 but there is an additional cost for elevator control. There are systems where the controllers and power supplies run around $200 per door so this figure could be as low as $5,200 but keep in mind that you get what you pay for in the long run and a generic phone that costs you $100 is not the same as a $700 dollar phone and the same applies to this and when buying at $50 dollar camera as to compared with a $300 dollar camera. Features and quality will determine the price as well as brand.
5. Now here comes the tricky part, several of the doors required special wiremold and or conduit in order to get cable to those doors, when you have drop tile and the access is easy the price is less, when we have to drill through walls and add conduit and fire caulk the price is more and these specialized installations add price to the labor and materials.
6. We had 100 iclass double sided (printable) which run around $8 per card so $800 extra
7. Double sided Fargo printer with ribbon and cleaning kit $4,000-$4,500 keep in mind that it does not come with a cleaning kit or ribbon and most likely the low bidders bid out a generic without ribbon or an introductory printer that will only do a few cards.
8. With other items such as the tie in to the fire alarm, a release button at the reception desk for the front door, a network switch, CAT5 for network, penetrations through walls and a special reader with keypad for the medical room the cost increased. The labor cost normally on bid jobs is a bit less then the commercial rates which are around $130-$140 per hour for specialized techs but assuming the labor rate was around $80 dollars per hour and assuming that each door took 7-8 hours each you are looking at over 200 hours and this is a Bacon Davis project with increased costs but assuming these factors the labor cost on this job would be around $16,000 on the low end and around $22,000 on the high end.
9. Adding up these basic costs comes to over $48,000 dollars and that is using the lower end labor rate of $16,000 and our price was $54,000 for a professional project done right without change orders being put through like many companies do. If they used the less expensive controllers and power supplies you could shave it down from 48,000 to just over $40,000 and the low bidder was at $30,000 which means they will have to practically give the project away without any markup so they will have to look for ways to cut corners which is what happens on these big projects when they are determined using low bidders. Often the low bid companies will bid so low that they cannot finish the project and the contractor has to hire someone else and often these type of businesses go out of business in the first few years. Peak Alarm has been in business for over 49 years because we do thing right. We are not often the low bid on projects like this and our customers understand that they need to pay a bit more to not only get quality but to avoid ongoing issues with their systems if they buy cheap equipment.
10. You get what you pay for and low bidders often have forgot things so they cut corners. There is no free lunch so review your bids and have a professional company with a good reputation do the work. Peak Alarm has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and very few complaints online when compared with other companies.
11. Peak Alarm is the only company in Utah with a UL listed Central Station, a full AV division, a full guard and patrol division as well as a full service alarm company. We even have a CAD and design department that is certified to submit fire marshal drawings for your commercial projects. Peak hires 300 local people at their 4 offices and we are a family owned company.
Peak Alarm is hiring so if you have experience in Sales or other areas we would love to have you come by and apply. We are currently scheduled out about 6 weeks on commercial projects although we can get residential projects done much sooner.
Contact Larry Love at Peak Alarm (801) 428 1384 or cell (801) 898 6003 Larry@peakalarm.com with questions or corrections to this post.