What Id like to do right now is turn the typical thought process of contractors ‘bidding’ or ‘getting three quotes’ on its head. If you’ve ever built a project before, whether it be a bathroom, kitchen, or whole home- you know-there will be changes in price, time, or scope(the work). Most likely, all of the above.
These issues all have a common thread, a lack of attention and effort most contractors put into a ‘bid’. The other commonality can be downright deceitful bids, with the intention of making up the losses with change orders.
Think like a contractor for a minute….. you are approached multiple times a week(or day) to ‘bid’ potential clients projects. Even the most basic proposal requires meeting with the potential client at the site, then multiple calls to our subcontractors(like electricians, plumbers, AC, etc) for pricing, followed up with hours of typing and estimating at the office. There are only so many hours in the week to do all of this, and then add to it, a contractor may only sign up 10% of these jobs.
A typical home renovation or new home can take between 40-80 hours of estimating, and phone calls, not to mention the job site walk-throughs. There are not enough hours in the day to both perform accurate, well thought out proposals, AND run the business.
So what does this bid system actually accomplish?
Most initial bids are ball parks, and ball parks are big places. With minimal effort put into bidding, there are many opportunities for prices and scope to change once your project has begun. Quickly estimating off a set of plans, generates many questions- which are typically never discussed with clients during a bidding process. These factors include types of finishes, quality of finishes, and plan conflicts.
Most companies will quite simply, spitball a number and use of “allowances” for what they think you want. Although technically a ‘bid’ can be used in contract, we have all heard the horror stories of out of control unexpected change orders on items that could have easily been predicted. With a diligent effort by the builder during the pre-construction phase, these issues are discovered as early as possible, and avoided or minimized. What you will usually find is large unexplained differences in prices. The variation you’d find is not typically that a given contractor is unreasonably expensive or cheap- its usually just that someone guessed more conservative and the others more optimistic. Some can be intentionally deceitfully low to land the job.
Another factor to consider is are the bids apples to apples? We have seen enough proposals from our clients to know, that 100% of the time, bids are never apples to apples. The devil is in the details, and the typical homeowner does not have the know how to verify who is providing what. If the homeowner cant be entirely sure whether bids are apples to apples, then what benefit do they really provide? How do you know if the contractor has priced a BMW, Ferrari, or an old beat up used car?
Whatever the reason for differences in bids, the end result can be disastrous for the client. Hiring the cheaper ‘bid’, and being maxed out financially- only to find out that the project will actually cost 30-50% more than ‘bid’ can be a terrifying experience, when there is simply no more money.
How can pre-construction services help?
We take the necessary time to properly estimate your job from day 1, by being compensated for some of our time. This time is useful in identifying common issues with plans, and seeing into the future what speed bumps we may run into- we can eliminate these, or account for them financially. We will iron out all finishes in your project, and price them to the penny. By the time the construction plans are in permitting, we have already built the job on paper and eliminated the majority of the common “HGTV surprises”.
We often also find savings through value engineering, not often caught with a quick ‘bid’. Whether we are awarded the project or not, you will walk away with a full line item proposal, outlining everything from quantities, quality of installation, means and methods, and a full schedule.
In summary, some of the most important work is done before a shovel hits the dirt. Pre-construction analysis of your project will eliminate 90% of the headaches and concerns on a construction project. The bottom line is- any costs associated with these services are greatly outweighed by savings in both time, money and stress in the long run.