The perennial paradox of home improvement sees homeowners wanting top quality work for the best price possible, but the cheapest rarely equates to the best. One of the key stages in the process of hiring the right builder for the job is in receiving, understanding and comparing quotes. So, how can you be sure to get the best building quotes from the right builders? It’s all in the planning. Be patient, methodical and follow this 6-step formula to maximise your chances of getting the best quotes for your project.
Step 1: Write a design brief
Take the time to think about why you are undertaking this project: what do you fundamentally want it to give your home that it doesn’t have now? Write down what is must have, what is should have and what it could have – doing so will help you prioritise what’s important.
Step 2: Invest in quality drawings
For simpler non-structural home improvement projects, you could probably go straight to the builder. But for anything else, you should hire a professional architect to produce a set of quality drawings. These will be planning approved, structurally detailed, compliant to building regulations and fully specified with your requirements. This set of plans essentially becomes the instruction manual for you builder, and you replace ifs-buts-and-maybes with solid facts in black and white, so now there is no room for ambiguity between what you want and what the builder will quote for.
Step 3: Make a shortlist of builders
With plans in hand, create a shortlist of builders from whom you would like to receive a quote. Do this is one of two ways. First, seek recommendations because that way you have recourse to a third mutual party. Second, find bona fide, professional builders through the FMB find a Builder service, because again, you have the reassurance of having the industry’s top accreditation body behind them.
Step 4: Invite them over to quote
Get three quotes. When the builder comes over to quote it is essential to be consistent with your approach. Ask them each the same set of questions, give them the same set of plans to quote from and tell them what you would like to see in your quote.
Step 5: Receive and compare quotes
Frustratingly, builders quote in different ways; some break everything down, other do not, some quotes come with a build schedule where others do not. The key thing is to ensure that each quote contains the following: all plans to be referenced as part of the quote so you know what’s in scope; a full and fixed price (stating whether it is with or without VAT) as well as any provisional costs that have been allowed for; a list of everything that is out of scope and finally a list any assumptions and/or special considerations the builder has made when writing up the quote. This way you can compare like with like.
Step 6: Carry out due diligence
Before you go ahead and accept the quote, make a list of queries and have the builder satisfy your questions in writing. Ask for references, visit a past and/or current project, as well as checking out the Builder’s FMB credentials and insurance documentation.
In summary, getting quality quotations from the right builders is a process. The quotes you receive will only be as good as the pre-work you put in understanding exactly what you want to achieve with the project, the thoroughness of the plans you provide and the suitability of your builder shortlist. Follow the 6-steps to get the best building quotes from the right builders and you’ll be just fine.