Evaluating Contractor Bids

When planning a retrofit or new build, get at least three quotes from contractors that have met your rigorous qualification requirements. Don’t be surprised to find that the bids differ greatly in price. Learning to evaluate bids is an art that it will behoove the discerning owner to master. The bids differ in price because some contractors may have included more list items or licensing fees. Picking the cheapest quote may lead to hidden fees or shoddy workmanship. Use a tried and trusted system for evaluating contractor bids to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Material World

One of the biggest discrepancies in bids usually revolves around the materials included in the quote. It’s best to ask your contractor to include all materials unless you intend to purchase them yourself. Do some research so that you know exactly what kind of materials your contractor is using and whether these materials are also up to your high standards. Utilizing top quality materials will mean greater energy efficiency and longer-lasting structures.

If your contractor is utilizing his own materials (like tiling grout or adhesive) ensure that these materials are included in the quote.

Scope of Work

Discuss the bid with your contractor to find out exactly how they intend to do the job. There is a plethora of ways to do any construction job. You need to be sure that your contractor is working to code and doing a thorough job. Any shortcuts now will cost you more in the future.

You also want to make sure that the contractor is quoting you from start to finish. For example, if your contractor is replacing a drywall, is he including the cost of removing the existing drywall? Make sure that the bid includes preparation work, protection of the surrounding area and clean up too.

If you are building to exacting efficiency standards, it’s important to discuss with your contractors who will take responsibility should your building’s performance fall short of expectations. A large part of securing the building envelope depends on the efficacy of the construction work. Ensure that your contractor is aware of your efficiency needs, is qualified to do work of the necessary standards and will take responsibility for the building’s performance.

Timing is Everything

Ensure that your contractor has an effective building plan. Knowing exactly how long your build will take helps you to plan around it and can save you time and money. Without a construction plan, your build may drag on and cost you more.

You also need to ask the contractor how long the quote is valid for. Building material costs change often and builders are usually only able to guarantee a quote for a set amount of time. It takes research and time to evaluate quotes and it’s good to know exactly when you have to make a decision.

Payment Schedules

These vary greatly from contractor to contractor. Some may ask for the money upfront, while others will ask for payments during constructions and still others require only the cost of the materials until construction is complete.

You need to consider the kind of payment schedule that suits you best and discuss this with your contractor.
Payment structures are usually negotiable, so speak with your contractor about options.

Make a list of all the must-have items that you expect to see in a quote. It’s helpful to provide these to prospective contractors prior to them creating a quote. Once you have received the quotes, take your time in evaluating them and do your homework. Ask questions and get any assurances in writing. Get a sample contract content checklist here.

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