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How to compare building quotes

Building a custom home is a large-scale project that requires organisation, skill, precision and years of expertise. Finding the perfect builder for the job can feel like a daunting task, especially if you haven’t worked with a builder before and the quotes you receive are varied. Opting for what appears to be the cheapest supplier can prove to be a costly mistake when unexpected charges crop up further into the process.

So how do you compare building quotes? Here are some things to consider.

Consider additional costs

Your building quote will likely include fixed costs (costs which can be determined up front), estimates for prime costs (for items such as fixtures and fittings, which haven’t been selected at contract-signing stage) and estimates for provisional sums (for materials or services whose exact cost cannot be determined, such as ground works).

Try to eliminate as many prime costs and provisional sums as possible from the quotes. For any that are included, consider how much of a financial buffer you might need to cover them. To learn more about prime costs and provisional sums, check out our blog on this topic here.

Bear in mind the quality of your finish will affect the building quote. If you’ve allowed a small budget for fixtures and fittings after your other expenditure, this will be reflected in the final result, which could compromise the look of the build.

Compare like for like

If one quote includes costings for certain elements and another does not, it’s hard to make a well-judged comparison. Supply each builder with an identical brief and request an itemised breakdown – select as many of your fixtures and finishes for your project at the start, so you can clearly contrast what you are getting for your money.

An Excel spreadsheet is a good tool to collate the information you receive in a clear and accessible way. You can compare the quotes at a glance, side by side. 

Be wary of comparing paid quotes and free quotes

It’s worth investing in a thorough, paid quote before commencing work on your build. This will involve a complete breakdown of all costs to accurately calculate the project.

Free quotes are often ballpark figures based on square metre rates, which can be a misrepresentation of the true overall cost of the project. Be sure to understand what is included in your quote – are fixtures and fittings inclusive in the price? Some builders may present a misleading figure to lock you in with a seemingly good rate, only for you to discover there are unanticipated costs further down the line.

To find out why we don’t recommend quotes based on square metre rates, read our blog here.

Get recommendations

If you can, try to speak to the builder’s previous clients about their personal experience. This will give you unbiased feedback on the process from end-to-end.

Additionally, if you have the opportunity to see some of the builders’ work in person, this is a great way to gage the standard of the final outcome – not to mention, give you a few ideas for your own project.

Build a rapport

Consider your experience with the builder on a personal level. After all, this is someone you will need to collaborate closely with on the project over a period of several months. How did you find the experience of obtaining a quote? If somebody is easy to deal with and happy to invest their time at this early stage in the proceedings, it’s a good indicator of things to come.

Once you do decide to lock them in for the job, ensure expectations are crystal clear on both sides before proceeding.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to compare building quotes or what should be included in a comprehensive quote, get in touch with the team at Adam Mason Homes today!