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Bidding Out-Include Supplies?


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By Susan in Middleburg, FL on 11/17/2004


I am in the bidding stage and I know that say for the foundation I have the contractor include the materials, but what about the electrical wiring and plumbing pipes, connectors, etc? I intend to supply the lights, plumbing fixtures, etc but is it more cost effecient for me to purchase all of the wiring and pipes?  Any feedback would be appreciated.
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 11/17/2004


Why not have the trades bid it both ways?  In some cases, you will find trade pricing to be better than you can do.  In others, you can easily shop the competition and beat the trade pricing.

For trusses, my ICF contractor recommended a truss fabricator he has been using exclusively.  When I shopped my drawings to all of the local truss fabricators (including his), I found a shop that was both better service and cheaper (although I am currently in a dispute about roof trusses with them, my floor trusses were very nice).  My ICF contractor now uses the truss supplier I provided material from.

For plumbing, it is very likely that the plumber has much better pricing than you could get.  My plumber provided his quantity take-off sheet to me so I could bid it myself.  While I have an account at a close plumbing supplier, and they quoted me very good prices, my plumber was able to beat them through his normal supplier (although less convenient) and passed this cost on to me.

My electrician identified that the best prices are probably at the big box stores, although he gets his material from the local supply house.  In this case, I am providing my own materials.  For electrical supplies, www.ebay.com has been a tremendous source, but for copper I will use the local big box with a 10% off coupon.

For lumber, bids will be all over the board.  Most carpenters shop one or two places exclusively, it is likely that by taking the time you can beat their prices.

For HVAC, you will be buying materials through the contractor.  I can't exactly purchase and charge a central A/C unit or heat pump.  What I found here though is the lower line installers tend to charge more for installation than the higher line installers, as the difference in price between them was smaller than I thought based on relative price of the equipment itself.


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By Susan in Middleburg, FL on 11/17/2004


Thanks so much Kenneth that helps tremendously. Why didn't I think of that?

Thanks again!!


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By Glenn in golden, CO on 11/17/2004


For both plumbing and electrical, any of the materials that have an aesthetic impact - faucets, tubs, light fixtures, etc., I picked and paid for. Anything that does not impact the look of the house, I had my subs supply.

This approach (I've used it now on 2 homes) gives you control over the stuff that matters and can vary in cost. It puts the responsibility for picking the correct "nuts and bolts" on the subcontractor, who is the expert in these things. You don't have the time or expertise to go and pick/purchase the right type of wiring and plumbing connections - the subcontractor does and can do it correctly and efficiently.

Now, the sub may well advise you on certain brands/models to avoid when picking out plumbing and electrical fixtures, but you still get to pick the unit and the source.

 


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By Susan in Middleburg, FL on 11/18/2004


Thank you Glenn!

Susan


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 11/18/2004


Glenn has an interesting approach with leaving the "nuts and bolts" to the technicians and the "you can see it" to you, but there still needs to be coordination to ensure the "nuts and bolts" work with the "you can see it" items.  For example, we are using a certain type of wall sconces, and my electrician identified that there are three typical boxes used for wall sconces, but each wall sconce works best in a certain type of box - you have to match the fixture to the box.

Also when taking quantity takeoffs from your trades, they frequently don't spend a lot of time doing this, because it is not relevant.  My plumber for example, he didn't figure out how many 45s or street 45s he needed, but his takeoff was "big box" of 45s and "big box" of street 45s.  He left me the extras though, since I paid for them.  Next time I see him I will ask them if he wants them, they are of little value to me.


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By Glenn in golden, CO on 11/18/2004


All excellent points, Kenneth. And they tie into my suggestion that the subs "advise" you on what to avoid, and what to pick.

In most cases, I had the sub touch feel and smell the fixtures that they would be doing rough work for before the rough work was done -- so they knew exactly what they were getting into and provided the appropriate "nuts and bolts".

 

Glenn


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