Are you Really Comparing Apples to Apples?
Having Your Job Priced
(On Your Mark, Get Set, Quote)
A set of drawings and a booklet of ”specifications,” (instructions pertaining specifically to your home or cottage re: types of materials to use, paint colours etc.), is sent to builders for what is called “Tender”. This is when a select number of builders and contractors, previously researched and screened by yourself or your architect, have the opportunity to compete “price wise” for the contract to build your cottage or home. At this time, each individual company will work to provide you with a “bid”. (An approximate price that it will cost you, for that company to build your project.)
Watch For The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
(Caution: Danger Ahead)
Once you have received all of the quotes or “bids,” review each quote entirely, and in minute detail. Ask lots of questions and read the fine print. Make sure you’re comparing quotes of equal specifications, or as they say “comparing apples to apples.” Often with review, you will realize that not all of the quotes are including the same things, even though they are all regarding the same job. Don’t assume that they are all quoting the entire project right down to the kitchen sink. For example some quotes will not include the entire kitchen, countertops, etc. where as others will. Watch for the wolf in sheep’s clothing! Some contractors will conveniently leave major things out so their price looks more appealing than the others. Honest contractors try to give the most accurate quote possible. Look for a list of what you are getting for the price given. Be aware and compare carefully!
However, it is acceptable for companies not to quote on the excavation portion of the project as it is difficult to foresee the complications ahead. (e.g. will your site unexpectedly require blasting rock?)
Most importantly, call the companies that are quoting and ask them anything you don’t understand. If they become frustrated or won’t give you the time then they are most likely not the best choice.
Avoiding The “Surprise” Bill
(Yield To Oncoming Bills)
Any costs that are incurred during construction that are outside of the original drawings and specifications quoted, are called extras. They are usually presented to you at the completion of the project. Let’s better understand why these costs occur.
Fine Print: Be certain of exactly what you are getting for the price quoted. Educate yourself on the costs of things that may not have been included in the quote. Example: a kitchen to be built and installed, countertops, hardware, appliances, landscaping, etc
Changes: Changes are a huge percentage of the extras bill. Any changes that are made during construction are going to be considered an extra (billed to you as an extra amount of time and material than what was originally quoted) It is very common to change your mind about something during the construction procedure. After all you’re building your dream. It is not a problem to change something at the construction level of the project. But be aware of the extras you will incur. Anything that will change or disrupt the flow of construction already in process is going to cost you money. It is in your best interest to keep track of your changes and meet with your builder or contractor on a bi-monthly basis to see where your budget is flexing.
It's Only an "Estimate"
(Are We There Yet?)
Estimate: "to form an approximate judgment or calculation regarding value."
Hopefully your builder has done the best he can to provide you with the most accurate price for the job. But don’t forget that this is only an estimate. Once the job gets underway things may cost more or less than what your builder had projected. Especially with an addition or renovation, it is very difficult to know what you are going to find once you break into the existing building envelope. It is common to have problems that need to be fixed in the old section of the home before continuing with the new construction. A ball-park figure in construction is just not realistic. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. There are so many aspects of construction that differ between projects (quality of material, access to, and the building site itself, design, details, finishes, personal budget etc.) You will never get an accurate idea of the price from a ball-park estimate.