Construction Bargain Strategies
7-43. Written comparison - Electronic Edition
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Maybe you weren’t too good of a student in school, but when you build it’s time to shine. You are entering the province of full-time professionals who have experience and systems to make the job easier.
Or if you were a good student, bring out your skills of learning and organization for this task. Write notes. Lay them out consistently for comparison when you are getting pricing on house components. Don’t be afraid to retype the whole hodgepodge into a computer to make it clear what you’ve got. This is particularly handy when you are considering bids. Nothing brings up questions for clarification quicker than to recopy the information from a bid into computer. You note that various parts have been left out, mistakes were made, portions are glaringly overpriced. Subcontractors are very willing to clarify and explain after they have bid. Your call shows you are for real and worth their time. The high road is to enter the information you gather into computer spreadsheet for valuable analysis. Since the spreadsheet offers calculation and sorting capability, you have new power to understand and discover good value in the marketplace. You can total your figures and get immediate recalculation when you learn of a change or negotiate a concession. Another plus is that your written information makes you a better bet for lenders. They live in a world of reports and spreadsheets, so you’ll fit right in: “ I put together different bids, three for each section, except where we have a friend. We added on what he’s going to do, and still put money in for that, and for our own labor. Last time we didn’t get everything in writing. Like sidewalk for ‘$1,900’ and the final bid came in at $3,000 on the last house. Make sure you get prices from more than one person also. HVAC and plumbing was $20,000 from one and $11,000 from a second one. Both reputable companies for the exact same thing. I always added extra to everything, and added 5% at the end. It is a lot more paperwork to get funds from the bank as an owner-builder. And they give you a higher interest rate as an owner-builder.” (Melissa and Brad D., Hanover, PA) Be neat and organized, take notes and use a spreadsheet to compare sources. The little items you lose track of can waste your time and money.
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