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Comparing Apples to Apples on Construction
Paragon C&D Builders / Vallone Real Estate
Wednesday, December 26, 2012 • Posted December 30, 2012 7:54 AM

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I hear, I can get this job done cheaper. It can be on a new home, remodel, or a simple outdoor fireplace that we hear this on. So I have some things I like to throw back to see if people are comparing apples to apples. Normally, it ends up apple to bananas. And why is that? I will tell you a few things to ask and look for.

When you start getting ready to build and go on your price gathering mission, make sure you are asking the same questions to each builder. Make a printed check list and write your answers down so you can compare accurately.

A few questions to ask; 1) What is the price per square foot? 2) Where do you buy your materials? 3) Are you insured? 4) Can you get the job done in a timely manner? 5) Do you oversee the job yourself? 6) How do I pay you? 7) How do I know all bills have been paid?

What is the Price per Square foot? This is a big issue. If you start comparing the smaller customs builders to the larger chain builders, you will get a big difference in pricing. Some of the larger chain builders get a better discount on materials due to volume. Others might purchase a lower grade of materials or hardware. Ask what type of materials they use. If you see $72 per square foot, is this for granite and tile? Blown in insulation? Upgraded sheet rock or roofing?

Where do you buy your materials? Ask the builder if they get their materials from a Builders Supply company or a local chain that everyone shops at. This will tell you about the quality. Ask about the lumber grades and sizes. What type of plumbing fixtures do they use and buy from? What size of sheet rock? What type of insulation?

Are you insured? If they are not insured and an accident happens, who will be responsible? Make sure the builder is insured. Not only make sure the builder is insured, but ask if they make sure the trades they use are insured. Trades would be like the plumber, electrician, etc. Yes, it cost money to be insured, but to do anything right it cost money.

Can you get the job done in a timely manner? Your builder should give you a time schedule to show the steps of the job. Most builders can make the schedule unless it rains, or something occurs outside of the norm. Whether it is a remodel or new construction, you should get a calendar with the activities for the job. This will also let you know who will be showing up at the job site. Having a schedule you both follow is a great form of communication also.

Do you oversee the job yourself? Most hands on builders will like to be at the job site on a daily bases to make sure everything is going on schedule, meets the standards for the company, quality is kept, cleanliness on the job site is maintained, etc. The builder will interact with the homeowners during the process to make it knowledge and enjoyable.

How do you pay for your new home, remodel, or special project? Normally, if you are building a large new home, you might want all draws to be run through a bank. If you are building a small guest house or remodel, you can write checks per the draw schedule. What are draws? The builder will set up a schedule for payments. The first is usually to get the foundation and a bit more going, followed by various steps that they will need money on, with the last payment upon total completion. You should have a written agreement on the draws signed by you and the builder. If you are working with a big chain builder, they work totally different than your smaller custom home builders.

How do you know all bills have been paid? Personally, when we finish a home or a remodel, etc. we give a Notarized affidavit indicating all bills have been paid. We receive a letter from each subcontractor indicating everything has been paid. I’m not sure if others show proof. We just like to protect our folks and give them the warm and fuzzy of knowing no one will come knocking to collect on what they have already paid us.

Selecting the independent Home Builder could get you a more friendly hands on builder. Their reputation is at stake, so they want to do a good job for you.

For all Your Real Estate and Building needs or questions, call Debbie at 830-833-4249 or 713-818-6658.

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