8. Contractors

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Whether you are building a tennis court for residential use, for a private club, for a resort facility or for a public project, the decisions you make should not be taken lightly. The investment in a court is substantial. However, a well-constructed court, properly maintained, can provide years of playing enjoyment. To get the most out of your investment, be a smart consumer.

Choosing the right contractor is vital in determining the ultimate success of your tennis facility. A knowledgeable and experienced contractor can help you, the owner, make the right decisions resulting in a quality project. Tennis court construction is a highly specialised field within the construction industry. It is vital that the contractor you choose be familiar with the current marketplace, as well as with the type of surface you intend to install. There is no list of approved tennis court contractors in Ireland and, as a result, you should carefully select the contractor for your work. – this cannot be stressed strongly enough.

Do your homework before you begin construction. The reward will be the right court at the right price. Having defined your needs you will now need to  develop a Specification ( how work is to be done and to what standards- based on sections 1-6#) and a Scope of Work(what has to be done and in what time – how many courts ). At this stage you will need to have a budget price in mind (what you can afford to pay for the selected contractor’s work and for any supervision you will need to pay for during the works).

Before inviting prospective Tenderers’ to bid it is useful to form a shortlist of those companies that seem qualified to bid. There are two steps in forming this shortlist.


The first one is to locate such specialists by consulting tennis clubs, municipal facilities and schools, as well as individuals, who have recently completed tennis court projects. Ask

  • Whether or not they would recommend their contractor
  • Was the job completed on time?
  • Did it meet the owner's expectations?
  • Were there any hidden costs?
  • Was the contractor able to solve any problems which arose during construction?
  • If there have been any post-construction problems, was the contractor responsive in taking care of them?
  • How does the court look?
  • How does it play?
  • What is the surface wearing with time?

Once you have the names of a few builder prospects, then complete the second prequalification step by discussing with each prospective Tenderer

  • How many years has the company been in business?
  • If it is a relatively new company, what is the work experience of its principals?
  • How many courts have they built?
  • Were they responsible for the complete project, just for surfacing, just for site work? Look for individuals or for a company with specific knowledge and experience in tennis court construction.
  • Does the company have experience in the type of project you contemplate?
  •  Has it built residential courts or club projects, hard courts or soft?
  •  Look for a company with experience in projects similar in size and scope to yours.
  • Ask for references and for a complete list of recent projects. If a significant project is omitted from the list of references, there may be a reason for that omission. Call references and ask questions. Determine as much information as you can about a prospective contractor's knowledge, experience, workmanship, ability to meet schedules, financial responsibility/ accountability and after sales service. If possible, visit completed projects and talk to owners.
  • Get references from design professionals, subcontractors, bankers and bonding companies.
  • Ask about a contractor's insurance; have there been any major accidents or claims against the builder?
  • Ask about awards and recognition. Has the contractor won any awards for his work? Is he certified or accredited by any trade organization?
  • Check on lawsuits. If the contractor has been or is currently involved in litigation, find out the details
  • Ask to meet the individuals who will be involved with your project, particularly the job superintendent- this if considerable importance as the final quality of the installed courts is very dependent on the supervision/quality/experience of the installation crew that comes on site to do the job. Does the contractor/superintendent seem knowledgeable about size requirements, orientation and slope of tennis courts? Does he understand grading, drainage, site preparation and base materials? Is he familiar with different tennis court surfaces? Can he make recommendations regarding specific court surfaces for your needs? Is he familiar with amenities and accessories including fencing, lighting, nets, net posts and windscreens? What is his current workload; can he realistically handle your project within a reasonable time frame?
  • Consider communication. You want a contractor who listens to you and responds to your needs. You want someone with whom you feel comfortable, someone with whom you can establish rapport. You want a contractor who will build the facility you want, not one who will build his standard court and move on. You want a contractor in whom you have confidence. Don't underestimate the value of a good working relationship.

Having completed steps one and two above, now select the companies to be invited to bid and issue them with the Enquiry indicating the dates for submitting bids and when bids will be opened. Clarifications issued before the closing date should be issued to all prospective bidders. The bids, once opened, should then be evaluated under the following criteria:-

  • Ensure that the bids, including products to be used and methods of construction, are equivalent to your Specifications and Scope of Work
  • What is included and what is not included in the contract price?
  • How important are the deviations and how much will it cost to remove them
  • Who contractor or owner is responsible for such items as permits, site preparation, electric power, taxes, insurance, removal and replacement of trees and shrubbery? Such items, while essential to the project, may or may not be included in the bid; whether or not they are included can significantly affect the contract price and the overall project cost. Even if construction materials and methods are identical and items included in the contract are consistent, look beyond price when comparing proposals.
  • Compare proposed construction schedules, progress payments, and most importantly, guarantees and warranties. Be sure that you understand what is included in any guarantee materials, workmanship or both and for how long.
  • Rank the proposals and then attempt to negotiate a contract with your first choice builder. While price is not the only consideration, if the bid of your preferred contractor seems high, try to negotiate a lower price or additional services into the package to make the higher bid more attractive.

Once you have chosen a contractor, confirm your agreement in writing. The contract documents, signed by both owner and contractor, should be as specific as possible and should include, where appropriate, an agreement, conditions of the contract, drawings and specifications defining the scope of work including labour, materials, equipment and transportation to produce the project and any agreements/clarification made after the bid was opened and before award. Consider appropriate bonding, which may depend upon the size of the project. You may ask for a bid bond, a performance bond and/or a payment bond.

Also, you may want to ask for a current certificate of insurance as proof that your chosen contractor has adequate insurance coverage.

In general, if the Scope of Work requires two contractors to be on site- e.g. one to do civil works and one to supply and lay an artificial turf surface then we consider that this should be organised by having a main contractor and a sub contractor. This means that one contractor is responsible for the overall installation and, in the event of later problems with the court, the owner has only to contact the main contractor. It is usually better that the supplier and layer of the artificial turf be the main contractor, as  the subsurface must be prepared to their specification.