• Ben and Lisa Meader

Building Quotes - Don't Compare Apples with Oranges

Comparing building quotes is not an easy thing to do. Each Builder will provide you with different levels of details and use a different structure for their quote layout. If you simply look at the bottom line and compare the total cost, you are about to make a big mistake. By looking at price only, you are assuming that each Builder has covered the same scope, will build using the same products and does not have any hidden costs.

So where do you start? How do you compare building quotes and ensure you are comparing apples with apples?

Without Building Plans

A popular option is to obtain quotes without building plans. Although convenient, it is the hardest way to decipher which builder is right for the job. If seeking a quote without plans, we can't stress enough how important it is to provide all Builders quoting the work with exactly the same information and in return ask for an itemised quote.

Quotes will vary predominately based on the materials used, labour and method of construction. For example, you've decided to build a deck with an insulated roof which is approximately 30sq meters. You obtained one quote but then decided to you reduce the size and change the type of building materials. Your second quote will now be significantly less but unless you ask the first builder to revise their original quote, you cannot compare these quotes.

With Building Plans

It’s important to start the quoting process off by not handing your plans to anyone and everyone. Too many quotes will just confuse the process. We suggest talking to several builders and qualifying two that you feel comfortable with and then continue the quoting process with them. Again, provide exactly the same information to both builders as this will ensure that everyone is on the same page.

If you are building a new home and you receive a one-page quote, this is a red flag. Everything listed on your plans and listed in your selections needs to be included in the quote. If the quote does not include everything requested, then proceed very carefully. If items specifically listed are not listed in the quote, then chances are they have not been costed into the final price.

Inclusions and Exclusions

One of the best ways to understand what’s included in a quote is to ask the builder what is excluded from the quote. Like reverse engineering, sometimes you need to start from the end and work your way back.

If one quote is very cheap, be sure to ask more questions about the quality of materials being supplied. For example, what type of tapware, door hardware and bathroom fixtures are being used? Or treated timber vs non-treated timber.

Check the provisional sum items. Has the Builder only allowed for budget level selections? For example, has he allowed for tiles costing $20 per/sqm, when in fact the quality of tiles you are wanting is going to cost $50 per/sqm.

The cost of preparing a site for the building process and site requirements – such as demolition, excavation, temporary fencing, site toilet – is one of the most common areas where lazy quoting practices result in costly variations.

The key is to unravel every quotation, especially if there is different information to compare. It takes more time than only looking and comparing final prices, but your analysis becomes much more assertive, and so does your choice of builder.

Make sure you ask questions. If you are not sure about something, ask! After all, it’s your project, your money and your home. In the end, your final decision should not only be made on price alone. The most expensive builder could easily be your best choice if everything is included in the quote.

At Meader Constructions, we spend a lot of time analysing each job to ensure our quotes are as accurate as possible. Our quotes are highly detailed so there are no hidden surprises and the actual cost to build aligns to the quote, that way you can manage your budget and avoid cost blow-outs.

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