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When getting bids for your new building keep in mind the following points:
1. Prepare a scope of work of exactly what you want your system to do and the counts.
2. Provide a set of drawings or plans even if it is a simple MAP with locations and distances
3. Invite qualified companies that you have checked out as far as insurance, licensing, Better Business Report
4. Avoid proprietary equipment. Many times a specific company is the only dealer in the State for a specific Security or fire panel and once you have that equipment in you are locked into using that company along with their higher labor and equipment rate. Many times they will get in with a low bid so they will have the service and equipment later on. Some school districts here in the State have taken those types of products out of their specifications so the schools don’t get locked into this type of situation.
5. If you don’t know how many devices and appliances you need it would be prudent to hire a professional company to do the design that will meet code and your needs. Explain to them that you don’t want to use proprietary equipment and that they will be paid whether they win the bid or not. Several of the larger security companies will provide this service and discount the rate or even deduct the cost if they win the bid.
6. Get a third party review of the system design to make sure it is not over designed. This may seem like quite a bit of work and you should know this will simplify your process later on.
7. Look up each companies Better Business Bureau report http://www.bbb.org
8. Look at the results and some companies throw out very low bids knowing that if you have one company that bid the project at $5,000 and three other companies that all come in around $8,000 then most likely the low bid left something out so if you are going to go with low bid, have an interview with them and go over all the equipment, wire, conduit and work to be done.
9. CHANGE ORDER GAME: Many companies bid very low, get the job and then try to get lots of change orders. Sometimes Engineers will put together performance specifications so the bidders understand that they need to provide equipment that will meet code and that order changes will not be accepted unless the owner is requesting additional items that were not on the drawings etc….
10. Consider hiring a professional Engineer to get your job designed and specified. On very large jobs this is recommended. Running your project through an architect, electrical engineer and a general contractor can lessen the pressure that is on you.
11. Consider the requirement for the designer to be a NICET III in Fire Alarm to do your Alarm system. NICET is a National organization and people have to pass a very hard test and qualify with years of work experience in order to get this certification. For a camera job there are certifications such as the AXIS CERTIFIED TECH which also require training and you can be assured that your project will be designed properly. http://classic.www.axis.com/products/index.htm Another certification that could be required is the State of Utah Fire Alarm Tech certification. (Three levels) This is required for testing and certification.
12. Understand that the least expensive products are not always the best. You get what you pay for. The camera may be a 2.1MP camera although if you are paying $200 for this camera and you compare it to a $1,300 dollar Axis camera they are not the same. Just like comparing an entry level new car to a BMV or other more expensive car.
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