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5 Key Points to Consider when Comparing Builders' Quotes

When comparing builders quotes the lowest price tag may seem appealing but your selection should be based on much more. It is critical to understand what is or isn't included in your quote to avoid unexpected costs later down the track and to ensure you are receiving value for your money.

Below are 5 points to consider throughout the quoting process:

1. Allowances

An allowance or prime cost item (PC item), is the value applied to an item that is unknown at the time of quote. These items are typically bathroom fixtures and fittings, tiles and joinery. To establish these values the builder should be communicating and seeking guidance on the level of finish intended. If quotes have items, such as foundations or structural steel as an allowance, it might suggest that the Builder hasn’t understood the quote documents, placing a higher risk on you to cover the cost should it exceed the allowance.

Allowances should be itemised so you can see the cost for individual items. This lets you easily see what value for money you are getting. If the final prices are similar but Builder A has higher allowances than Builder B, then you will get more value for money with Builder A.

2. Presentation of the quote

A substantial amount of time is required to prepare a detailed quote. Plans and specifications need to be sent to suppliers and sub-contractors to quote on their components of the project and then the Builder needs to combine all of those prices to provide you with a cost for the entire project. This process will most likely to take about four weeks, anything shorter will indicate that the Builder has estimated, rather than put together an accurate costing.

Some questions to ask yourself when you receive your quote are:

  • Does the quote cover the entire project?

  • Are the allowances clearly shown and can you easily compare them with other quotes?

  • What has been excluded from the quote?

To include all the required information, the quote should be several pages long and clearly explain every aspect of the project.

3. Communication

Having good communication with your Builder is essential for a project to run smoothly. This also applies during the quoting stage. Ensure the Builders ask questions and take interest in what you are hoping to achieve. After all, this is your house, not theirs.

As the Builder is the professional in this situation, the responsibility lies with the Builder to extract information from you. This will also be a good indication that your chosen Builder cares about you and is not treating you as just another client. Also worth considering is: did they respond in a timely manner and were they competent with both telephone and email communication.

4. Organisational skills

There are many pieces of the puzzle when constructing a new home or undertaking a major renovation. A Builder who is organised will have the project running smoothly and in a timely manner. Being organised and planning ahead will help to avoid delays and allow you sufficient time to make decisions and selections. You can identify a Builder’s organisational skills at your first meeting. Did they meet at the agreed time? Were they well presented? Did they know what their current work load was and therefore give you a potential start date? The Builder’s organisational skills will directly impact your job, so it is important to consider this in your final decision.

5. Building a relationship

Your relationship with your chosen Builder will be the key influencer for how enjoyable (yes, it can be!) your building experience is. Trust is a big part of this relationship and this will be formed during the building process. Having trust will allow you to more easily ask questions when you are unsure of the process or requirements, as it is very normal to have many questions throughout the build.

Your capacity to build a solid relationship with your chosen Builder can only be gauged through your “gut feeling” after taking into account the above four points. Your positive relationship is feeling at ease with the Builder and having confidence that they will deliver on what has been promised.

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