Ken Badalamenti

Whether you are looking to build a new home or renovate an existing home getting an accurate and fair estimate is often a daunting task. Looking for the best price when it comes to hiring a builder typically comes with many complexities and pitfalls; there is so much advice out there on how to get the best “estimate”; this makes it difficult to discern truth from fiction. One of the most prominent tactics that you may have come across is the “3 bid” strategy.

This strategy is based around gathering three competing bids and comparing them to ensure you are getting a fair price. This practice has been a standard, recommended practice for a long time. Although it makes sense initially, this strategy leaves out many  factors that are essential to not only getting an accurate estimate but also assuring you are receiving workmanship, materials and service.

Cost is Not the Only Factor

Getting the lowest price is important, but people looking to build or renovate a home often miss the hidden costs that can come after an initial quote. Soliciting three estimates and choosing what you feel is the best estimate  ensures one thing; that you are getting the real l price. The problem is a simple walk-through of the project does not provide enough detail for the builder to create a realistic estimate. Unforeseen and hidden conditions are often not explored and left out of the initial bid process. As more of these details and hidden conditions are revealed, these changes inevitably come with time and as the project develops; the costs can quickly add up.

The other issue, with only factoring in what most feel is the  best price, is that this may become an issue as you’re selecting materials and subcontractors. A low bid does not necessarily mean that you will not receive excellent products and services, but having a lower bid may incentivize a builder to take shortcuts to hit the lower price point. This may mean they are substituting substandard materials  that over the years can end up costing you more to replace or repair them.

When it comes to selection of your finish materials, many builders make assumptions on what they think you will select and they will include an allowance for those selections.  This allows them to create a misleading situation where many builders will assume a lower cost for selections that is reflected in a low bid. At Alair Homes, we prefer to work with you to make all those selections of what you really desire during our Planning Process.  While this may add time to the planning, it enables us the opportunity to provide you with an accurate estimate for the project

There is also the issue of completing the project on-time. If a builder is focusing on lower cost, they are frequently forced to choose less skilled labor. That could end up prolonging or delaying the project.

Less experienced labor may result in slower work, erratic schedules, poor communication and/or mistakes along the way leading to your home taking much longer than anticipated. As with any project, it is difficult to foresee all the problems that could arise; this is why we prefer to meet with you and go through an in-depth discovery meeting process. We call this our Planning Process. This opens up a dialogue that allows both you and our team  to ask questions freely. Only with this amount of open conversation and details are you able to truly get to the best decision and an accurate estimate.

It’s About the Relationship

We, at Alair Homes, opt for an interview rather than a bid. We believe it is best to choose your builder based upon their  experience, character, and demonstrated success. You may be working with your builder for many months in order to reach your goal. This is why it is essential to  maintain respect and open communication throughout this process. Before committing to a builder, look into their past projects, portfolios, and reviews to get some initial insights into their business. At Alair Homes, we are confident with our high level of detail and service,  we always strive to deliver a quality product. Prospective clients are always encouraged to access our portfolio, references, and detailed cost comparisons, so you can make an intelligent decision.

Alair Homes: How To Understand Contractor’s Fees from Alair Homes on Vimeo.

Knowing Alair Homes background helps you go into our meetings with an idea of what we have done and what our work success is like. This way, you can ask detailed questions to see if Alair Homes is  a “good fit,” not just for your project, but a good fit to work with as well. From there, plan to have regular interactions with us our team how Alair Homes will address any questions you may have and how we will keep you informed throughout construction.

It is a relationship you are looking for, one that makes you feel comfortable and confident as you begin the process of building or renovating your ideal home. With a strong relationship, you will remain confident that, with Alair Homes as your partner through your construction process, you will find the path to a successful completion of your project.

Comparisons Can be Deceiving

The reality is, ensuring you have a relationship of communication with your builder, rather than looking only at the price point , gives you a better idea of how the project will progress . Without a set of concrete plans and specifications, it is challenging to compare one bid to another. Each builder will have different styles, priorities, and  cost assumptions, and that will make each submission different. This is why simply getting bids to compare to each other is not an “apples-to-apples” comparison.

This does not mean you should not compare builders. However, rather than merely comparing based on price, begin the process by looking at past work and references. If the builder has the capabilities and skills you are looking for and you feel that they have the level of communication and trust needed to keep you informed and moving towards your goal, then it’s best to begin qualifying their estimate. This is the best way to truly understand what builder has to offer and feel confident in the decision you are making.

Moving Forward

Building or renovating a home should not be a stressful process. It should be an enjoyable process.  This is why choosing the right professionals with the experience, knowledge, and transparency you deserve is so important. Avoid looking just at the price to help prevent the pitfalls and stress-filled projects that others have had to go through.

If you are beginning the process of looking for a builder or you have already gathered your 3  bids, don’t be afraid to ask more questions and ensure that a builder is really the fit that you expect. If you have any questions or would like inquire about your  project, contact us. The Alair Homes team would be more than happy to help- Give us a call today at (440) 703-6462 . 

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