Finance and saving money

The Secrets to Builders Prices…

  1. “Yes, but How Much Will This Cost??”

As soon as you decide on a substantial renovation, you’ll be desperate to know whether you can do it within your budget.  We’ll assume your budget is your main driver and, although it should have some flex, you should be totally in control of any increases.

The cost exercise can be frustrating – for all parties.  You need as much clarity as possible but probably don’t know exactly what you want.  The information needed for a reliable quote is seemingly infinite:  how tall, how wide, which materials, how much glass, which flooring, which heating, where will the lights go, what is bespoke and what is off the shelf, and on and on…

  1. Get the gist…

A realistic aim is to get a ‘ball-park’ figure as soon as you can.  Is this figure one you can work with?  Everyone’s heard stories where people get 3 quotes and they’re all totally different.  Unless you ask for quotes on exactly the same basis, you’ll get different numbers.  You’ll need to specify how to quote – don’t have firms quoting their way – you’ll never be able to compare the quotes otherwise.

  1. Sorry, but we’re a bit biased

To get the costs right as early as possible we think it’s easier with a firm which offers the measured survey, initial drawings, architecture, planning, project management and build all under one roof.  That’ll mean your team, from day one, understands exactly what you want and what the other team members need.  The designer knows which information the builders needs for an accurate quote and can communicate with them easily to clarify.

  1. Get your story straight

You can only get an accurate price if you provide accurate information, and this can only be done after the initial survey and drawing stageGet this booked and done as early as possible – it’s a discrete phase, with limited outlay (in the context of the overall project cost) and once you’ve got this, your team will know what they’re working with.

If you can get a laser scan survey, from which a 3D model of your house and drawings are produced, you’ve got a tool which can be used by whichever team you choose – a super-accurate survey and a digital model which can be manipulated on screen in front of your eyes, to show the possibilities.  Not all architects work this way, but it’s obviously becoming more common – check how a team works prior to engaging them.

From that solid foundation, you can agree the ‘concept design’ with your team – the general layout, structural changes, external look, planning and consent issues.  You may not know exactly which kitchen worktop you’re having but, in that case, there should be an allowance made for each item.

  1. Check your allowances

Make sure, however, that you interrogate what this allowance means – in terms of the quality (bronze, silver, gold?) amounts, finishes – do not just accept an allowance as ‘reasonable’ without knowing more.  If you ensure the allowances are reasonable, you’ll control the problem of costs rising.  Also, by insisting quotes are on your terms, all areas are covered.  You don’t want a quote with gaps in it, that you may not spot.

By getting your survey and design done early, you’ll be able to provide the items necessary for reliable quotes, for example:

  • full plans and drawings of existing house and the proposed design;
  • specification in as much detail as possible;
  • details of any work or materials you’re planning to deal with separately;
  • areas of uncertainty to be clarified with a reasonable basis for allowances to be agreed.
  1. The 3Ms

M+M+M – 3 areas of cost for every task for every area of the job – men (and women!), materials & machines (plant & machinery).  It takes time and money for a tight, reliable quote and what can happen is that, until a builder knows he’ll win a job with some degree of certainty, he can’t commit to putting in all the work needed to quote fully.  You’ll want to know you’re not getting a quote that is the ‘right amount’ to win a job, but vague enough to allow it to change once you’ve started.

 And you’re off!

All these issues can be managed – get the early stages underway early on, plan, get as much information as you can and work at choosing the right team.  If you’ve then got your survey, existing drawings and proposed design, with a tight scope of works and allowances you’re comfortable with, you’ll be able to understand and rely on the costing process – a big win at the start of your project.

Next time, we’re going to cover the design process and what to expect from it.  If you can’t wait until then, get in touch and tell us about your plans – we love big dreams!

Your Charter Projects’ Team.

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