If you are looking to renovate your home, choosing the best builder for the job is your most important decision.
In previous articles, we have explained how to create a shortlist of builders from whom to get quotes.
Here we are zeroing in with more detail on how to assess each quote to help you make as informed a choice as possible before you sign a contract with a builder.
Preparation Before Getting Quotes
To make the task of comparing quotes easier, it is worth taking one step back to ensure that the quotes you receive come with as similar information and sections as possible.
After you have developed a shortlist of builders, you should send them exactly the same brief as the basis of their quote.
The information included in that brief may vary depending on whether you already have plans or are approaching a ‘design and construct’ firm like Addbuild. We cover the pros and cons of each option in our Consumer Guide to Home Improvement.
So, your brief might include all or some of the following:
- Concept Designs;
- Plans created by a third party like an architect or designer;
- Engineering reports;
- Specific fittings, materials, products and finishes you want to include in the project.
The more detail you can provide to the builders, the more detailed the quote will be, and there will be fewer ‘provisional sums’ (basically an estimate of the cost of something that cannot be accurately priced at the time) in the quote.
Type of Contract
When you create a shortlist of builders, you should also ensure that all agree to the type of contract that will be used if they become your builder.
The main types of contract are ‘Fixed Price’ and ‘Cost Plus’.
A Fixed Price Contract is the one we recommend and use ourselves for major renovations because it’s the safest way for you, the client, to know the cost of the building work up front.
A Fixed Price Contract will include ‘provisional sums’ because, as explained above, these are costs that cannot be reasonably fixed, for example, wall and floor tiling when the owner has final choice on their selection, and that selection affects both material cost and labour.
If the quotes you receive are based on a mix of contract types, it will be very difficult to compare them effectively.
What You Should See in Each Quote
- A clear design and written specification proposal;
- A proposal that is presented in a simple to follow format;
- A clear list of inclusions and any exclusions;
- A clear list of provisional sums;
- Confirmation of the nominated type of contract to be used if moving ahead.
Double check the following:
- Each quote includes all the aspects of the project that you outlined in your brief;
- Each component is clearly listed and costed. If not, don’t hesitate to ask for a more thorough breakdown of the costs.
Assessing the Quotes
A good builder will happily take the time to talk you through each section of the quote in detail.
They should be able to answer any questions you have and provide you with any extra information that you feel hasn’t been included.
You shouldn’t feel constrained in any way as to what you might ask, nor pressured into rushing your assessment of what has been provided.
When assessing and comparing the quotes, you should be trying to weigh up the best service for the price quoted — the cheapest quote is not always the best company to choose.
No doubt each builder will provide a quote in a different format and/or order. Make sure that you can line up each item in one quote with the corresponding item in the other quotes to ensure that you are comparing every detail like for like.
If there are notable variations between individual items within each quote, ask each builder why and find out what assumptions have been made:
- Are the quantities for that item the same or similar across the quotes?
- Are the materials specified the same or of comparable quality?
Before choosing the builder you want to proceed with, make a final check on the quality and depth of each company’s references and experience.
Again, your decision shouldn’t be based on price alone, you should be completely satisfied that they are able to carry out and complete the work to a high standard.
Having made your choice, remember that you aren’t locked in until you sign the contract. It’s important to make sure that the contract you receive fully reflects everything in that builder’s quote and that nothing has changed.
Once again, don’t hesitate to check all the fine print and ask questions about any of the sections you aren’t sure about or you don’t feel match the quote.
We have a checklist that will help you determine whether you are ready to approach builders for quotes in our article explaining a bit more about Addbuild’s ‘concept to completion‘ service.
As Sydney’s leading builder of home additions and extensions with 40 years experience in the trade, we love helping Sydney homeowners realise their aim of creating their dream home.
Feel free to dive into our extensive library of articles with free home renovation advice, download our Consumer Guide to Home Improvement, or sign up to our Home Alterations Masterclass.