Building / Finance

Building Quote Comparisons

It pays to do your homework when comparing building quotes…


It is only natural to want the lowest price before making a purchase. That’s the whole essence of shopping – looking around before making a decision. But like a majority of things we buy, it’s hard to determine the value of a product or service based on its price alone. There are too many factors that determine the cost to construct a new home. As such, a comparison of quotes to build a new home can be quite tedious. Aspects of the home building process can be confusing to those who don’t know much about the industry.
That said, a lot of thought should be put into choosing the right builder. Many times, selecting a builder based solely on their rates can lead to frustration and disaster. Unlike something you buy at a store, the builder you select can’t be replaced effortlessly if you’re not pleased with their work. If the quote you’ve been given seems suspiciously low, it could be an indication that there are hidden costs coming your way.


Several Things to Keep in Mind When Comparing Building Quotes

  1. A written estimate should be provided when requesting construction of a new home. Red flags should be raised in your head if one is not offered, or if the one you are given is missing vital elements about the project.
  2. Is the estimate presented professionally, and is it inclusive of everything you requested?
  3. Are there an abundance of PC (prime cost) totals for items that PCs don’t typically cover? For instance, does it list windows, structural work, and foundations? If not, the contractor may not be clear about what he is providing an estimate for, or even that he knows what he’s doing. Also keep in mind that the builder can protect himself with PC totals, making you responsible for unforeseen expenses during the project.
  4. If the quote doesn’t define models and makes, and instead, attributes those items to other builders’ estimates, then be sure you are comfortable with those figures.
  5. Is the quote inclusive of services, and if not, are the costs for them easy to establish?
  6. Is the quote inclusive of site costs?
  7. Are there any items the builder has omitted from the quote?

Most people try to obtain three or four quotes before selecting a contracting company. Any additional candidates could not only delay the start date, but could create confusion about the project itself. Any less than three quotes may not give you an accurate figure.
Be mindful that contractors are busy people, and generally don’t like spending time on someone they know is shopping around for a quote. They prefer to talk to serious customers if you’ve done your homework and know exactly what you want, they’ll be happy to talk to you.
As you eliminate potential contractors from the quotes you obtain, you’ll notice distinct differences in costs. One may be way out of your budget, another may sound too good to be true, and some may be identical. The quotes that are close to the same ballpark are the ones you should be focusing on. The contractors who provided them share a methodical mindset about your project.
It’s best to be weary of overtly cheap costs, because the contractor may have omitted a crucial aspect of the job. It also might be possible that he is compromising his rates in order to get the job. This could be troublesome, as a  poorly paid contractor has no incentive to perform to the best of his ability. On the other side of the coin, an overpriced quote may be indicative of the contractor’s busy schedule, the distance he and his team must travel, or a lack of passion and interest in your particular project.

What to Be Mindful of When Comparing Building Quotes

  1. If an estimate seems too good to be true, it’s probably priced inaccurately.
  2. A highly pricey estimate could be suggestive of the builder’s schedule, or lack of interest in the project. Builders sometimes price they project high to give them an out. If you choose to hire them based on a high price they provided, at least the compensation they receive will justify taking the project on.
  3. A builder should take the time to understand your intentions, inspect your property, and ascertain what they can do for you. Those are the contractors that will take your project seriously.
  4. How big of a company is the building contractor you’re consulting with? Established builders may be able to provide a competitive estimate, based on their quantity of foremen and resources at hand. But will they travel to your area? Do they have the specific skills to construct what you want, or are they more of a “jack of all trades” business?
  5. If the builder you’re consulting with runs a small company, do they have the experience, skills and tools required to get the project done on time and correctly? Can they make changes accordingly if the construction isn’t to your satisfaction?
  6. Are the builders you are consulting with tech-savvy? Do they have strong reviews online? Are they able to be reached by phone or email easily? Do they respond to your inquires in a prompt fashion?
  7. Is your written quote so well-crafted that you missed a vital part of the project? Was it reworded differently to protect the builder if things go wrong?

As simplistic as these concerns may be, one small factor may be what separates one builder from another in a major way. You should feel comfortable asking a builder questions, not intimidated. You should be able to communicate with them easily.

Meeting With Your Potential Builder

Once you have compared building estimates, you can meet with the contractors who made your short list. Meeting them face-to-face will help you feel them out. They might sound pleasant on the phone, and write a superb written quote, but you won’t really be able to gauge someone until you meet them in person. It is best to assemble a list of questions to ask the builder, and have it on hand upon meeting with them. Ask them to clarify anything that you don’t understand. Ask them specifics about the project’s duration, how services and materials used are priced, their experience, and payment schedules. Don’t forget to inquire about warranty insurance and the builder’s certifications, and other credentials you can think of.
If there are omissions in the initial quote, be sure to address them and get specific answers, in order to avoid unwanted surprises as the project progresses. 


Make a Proper Choice by Asking the Following Questions:

    1. Is the in-person estimate inclusive of anything that was omitted in the preliminary quote?
    2. Were all the concerns you wrote down thoroughly addressed?
    3. What are your initial thoughts upon meeting the builder? Do they come across as professionals, or do they operate out of a truck?
    4. How long has the builder been in business?
    5. Are you sure they understand exactly what you want?
    6. Do you have good chemistry with the builder? Are they easy to talk to?
    7. Does the builder come across as high maintenance and unapproachable?
    8. Were they pressuring you to make a decision during the meeting?.
    9. Is the builder tech-savvy, or are they old-school?
    10. Does the builder have references you can contact or check out online?
    11. Have you seen their portfolio?
    12. Can they easily obtain permits, and explain why they are necessary for certain things you want done?iStock_000041052002Large-300x166


It can take a year, give or take, to construct a customized home. As such, it makes sense to be absolutely sure the builder you hire is the right fit, and not someone you chose hastily.
Finding the right builder won’t happen overnight. You might need to consult with several of the same companies multiple times in order to get the answers and comfortability you seek. Once you do find the right fit, you’ll be expected to sign a building contract.

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