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Large Difference in Foundation Bids


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By Matt in Highland, IL on 10/31/2006


I am going to be building a 2300 square foot ranch with a 9 foot pour.  We will have a walkout that is framed on one side of the house.  I got three bids on the foundation and am now unsure what to believe.

1. Builder who is doing the rough carpentry also bid the foundation.  They do not sub this out, but may have to rent equipment.  Includes excavation, footers, materials, foundation walls, and backfill for $36000.

2. Small town concrete only guy who does flatwork and foundtions.  He only has 8 foot forms and will frame up to 9 feet.  Includes excavation, footers, materials, foundation walls, backfill, and flatwork concrete of basement floor and garage floor for $32000.

3. Larger company that only does foundations.  They even own their own concrete pumper.  Includes excavation, footers, materials, and foundation walls.  Will not backfill.  Price is $18,500.

Thoughts???

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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 11/1/2006


First bid sounds a little high, maybe because he has to rent forms.

Second bid includes basement and garage slabs, which are big-dollar items.  My 2500 sq ft basement cost me about $8000 and my garage slab was bid at approximately $4000.  Take that $12,000 off the second bid, plus some $$ for backfill, and the second and third bids are nearly identical.

My concrete guys were able to put 1' forms on top of 4' forms for my garage frost walls.  I'm surprised your guy couldn't put a 1' form on top of a 8' form to form up your 9' wall.

Get some references for the second and third guys and get a bid from the second guy for the slabs only.  (Tell him you'd really like 9' of concrete and you're considering guy #3 for that reason.) 

Good luck!

Jon


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By Matt in Highland, IL on 11/1/2006


Thanks for the feedback.  I have not received flatwork quotes back yet, and actually the second guy I went to because he did flatwork, but found out he also did foundation work.  I plan on requesting him to seperate the work since I do have other flatwork I need bidded.  Guess I didn't realize that the flatwork could cost so much.

I'll be sure to post what I find.  Thanks!


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 11/2/2006


I am not quite current on pricing, but when I was building concrete flatwork was ~$3.00-3.50/square foot complete.  So a 2,300 s.f. ranch would have $7-8K in basement flatwork included, not counting a garage floor (2 car garage at 24x24 is 576 s.f. and just under $2K).  Back $10K out of it and you can compare apples to apples.

I would look seriously at the third company.  Sometimes specialization has its benefits and economies of scale.  All they do is concrete foundations, including owning specialized equipment the others don't.  They have a concrete pumper, I was paying $150/hour for a three hour minimum + one hour drive time, and this was well under the going rate (closer to $200/hour) - if they are doing enough work to own one of these their costs ae lower, and it appears that this cost savings may be passed on to you (economy of scale).  However you will be required to get Mr. Bobcat in there for backfill (hourly rate of $65-90/hour), and Mr. Flatwork in there for basement and garage floors ($3.00-3.50/s.f.) - flatwork contractors are easy to come by and not terribly specialized unless you are looking for stamped/stained/out of the ordinary.

At the same time, sometimes I was willing to pay a bit more to not deal with more people than necessary.  By eliminating two contractors entirely (bid #2, you eliminate Mr. Flatwork and Mr. Bobcat) just the headaches in scheduling and coordination among more players is worth a premium.  However it isn't worth the premium charged by Bid #1.

It sounds like you have two somewhat comparable bids, I would take this back to an apples-to-apples comparison to figure which is the bette bid (notice I didn't say lower bid, coordination has a cost).  Is it worth it to save some money and use the lowest bid (bid #3), or is it worth it to save some headaches and use bid #2?  How much money difference arte we talking about, it isn't $13,500?


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By Lori in Reno, NV on 11/13/2006


Matt,

Because of our personal experience with our foundation I can offer this advice. Get as much information on each company as you can. We did the normal checking with BBB and the local licensing agency, but I didn't get past job info. We did look at an album, but that doesn't give you the bad. I feel if I had gotten more info on this company I would have probably gone else where. We are off square and unlevel, which has caused more headaches then I think a person deserves.

P.S. 2508sf stem wall, 2 car garage flatwork, and 7 pillars for the patios, also all backfill for $20,000

Good Luck!! Lori


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