As I continue this series, Total House Construction Series – Foundation to Finish, I want to focus on getting bids and estimates for the work that needs to be performed. You’ve finally got your blue prints so now you’re ready to get bids and estimates from contractors.
Now getting bids and estimates can an overwhelming task for the average home owner especially if you plan on being your own general contractor. However, if you have a good set of detailed blue prints the process of getting firm bids will be much easier. You may want to buy a book such as Estimating Home Construction Costs which you can get on Amazon. The key to the whole process is to get multiple bids and qualifications from competent contractors.
If you’re going to hire a general contractor then you’ll want to get several complete bids from several different GC’s. Make sure you give each GC the same plans and specifications so they all bid on the same scope of work. It will be very difficult to compare bids if you ask each of them to make too many assumptions. In addition to the bids try and get a list of past customers that you can contact as a reference. The final decision may be based more on the reference than the price.
If you’re going to be your own GC, then your task of getting bids will be a bit more complicated and time consuming. First of all you’re going to have to find sub-contractors for each of the trades, everything from concrete foundations to finish carpenters and painters. Again, you’ll want to get multiple bids from each trade along with references. I hope this is where you start to understand why it’s difficult and time consuming being your own GC.
Make sure that each bid you recieve comes with a written description of the scope of work associated with the estimate. Make sure that the estimate is signed and dated and clearly spells out the terms of the proposed contract. Make sure you understand how and when payments are to be made. And lastly make sure you ask the contractor how long they warranty their work.
Give yourself several weeks to put together all the estimates. Most local building supply companies provide free estimating services for the material package. They can estimate everything from the wood framing to siding, windows, doors, insulation, flooring, cabinetry and painting. That way most of the materials are estimated by the same place you’ll buy them and you can focus your attention on the labor.
I hope this post gives you come ideas and guidelines for getting bids when you build a new house.