Today is the Day! Today, after this post you will be well on your way to making quite possibly one of the biggest decisions in building your home! Choosing your builder! The last post we touched on having an idea of a plan and taking it to builders for bids. Now, that we have all of our bids back from our builders, we created a spreadsheet that we have actually attached here so you can just print it off and hopefully use it as a guide for choosing your builder.
This spreadsheet lets your put the numbers from each of the paper bids that your builder gives you explaining the breakdown of his numbers and what is included in his/her contracting. This truly helps you compare apples to apples and maybe even question the builder if his or her number looks way off from everyone else’s. In our experience this also helped us realize that a certain bid left out a few things so we accounted for that and added it to his bid.
We felt like some builders may leave some things out on purpose to make their numbers look better, but then if you choose them and then you start building and that amount comes up you didn’t include, your budget can be totally ruined. So here was our steps in choosing our builder at this point:
Step 1. We received all of the bids while meeting with all of the contractors and went over the numbers, while they explained their bids. We had them break down what each amount was for and what it included and did not include.
Step 2: We created the spreadsheet and filled in each amount from each builder, which we found some holes with some builders that the other builder provided, so we then went to the other builders for their breakdown. This is the only way to most accurately break down and compare the numbers.
Step 3: I know it sounds like its all about numbers, and after this spreadsheet you should go with the cheapest builder. That is completely untrue! At this point we had met with each builder twice. Our first time with each of them was our introduction meeting and then when we discussed the bid. We also took into consideration how they acted and responded to our questions. We asked how they felt with our requests from the very get-go. We also changed some things after our bids to see what a difference it made in the total price, then looked to see how they reacted. In addition, when building time comes how much changing things would cost. We found some builders get frustrated with too many questions, some get flustered knowing you are receiving other bids, and one we even felt, never answered our questions directly they just kept generalizing way too much that we felt we couldn’t even get an accurate foundation of his work.
Step 4: Ask your builder if he would provide some pictures of houses and plans that he has done so you can see his work. Maybe even ask for location so you can drive out and see it yourself. We had builders actually give us names, so we contacted them and asked many questions about their building process with them. This was a game changer! I am soooo glad we did this! In between your initial meeting with the builder and the meeting to comeback and discuss your bid, ask others around your community, family, co-workers, friends, if they know anything about the builder as far as his work, and honesty, and quality.
Step 5: Now that you have each bid, and you know the approx. cost of the build, make final changes to your plan, exterior and interior, select your builder, meet with him to tell him you have chosen him or her, and finalize your plan, so he can start working on an true exact amount to build your house.
So, did i lose you on my second sentence? Are you confused with all this info? Below are a few questions to make sure you ask each of your builders when you meet that can help you make your decision in choosing him or her for your contractor
1. Do you have insurance and what does it cover on the job site if something happens?
2. How long based on our plan do you think it will take to build our home?
3. In the breakdown of your bid do the numbers include labor costs?
4. Can you meet us at the building site to go over progress on the house when we would like too?
5. Can we call you after hours and on weekends?
6. Can we use someone else other than who you use for a part of the build (example: plumbing or electrical)
7. At the time each part of the house is done and we need to pay the person for that job, can we see the direct bill and have a copy with the itemized amounts?
8. Will our home be the only build you are doing or will you be building another house at the same time?
9. Once our plan is drawn up, how much to make a change?
I know their is more, but these are important ones we asked each builder and took into consideration when we were choosing our builder. Stay tuned for our next post: Staking out your plan!
-Shannon and Jamie