Extending - is it mad to go with the cheapest builder?(25 Posts)
2 quotes so far:
Builder 1 - £120K, 20 weeks completion, start date 3 months
Builder 2 - £90K, 12 weeks completion, start date 4 weeks
Should alarm bells be ringing???
BTW, we have tried to get a 3rd builders quote from someone highly recommended but he just isn't completing it.
How detailed are the quotes they've given you? It could be the second has a larger crew to do the same work with, but difficult to tell unless you can do a 'line-by-line' comparison as it were - cheapest isn't always worst (we went with the cheapest quote once and they showed up on time, finished the job on time and did it brilliantly).
The cheapest quote is very detailed in comparison to the more expensive. They both have the same size team (boss, 2nd in command, labourer & sub-contractors). Very pleased to hear that the cheapest builder completed a great job for you Moonlightandroses!
No references so far, although I know builder 2 has completed work for some school mums (not in my circle!) & they are planning on using him again.
Detailed is good - the fewer misunderstandings the better! Yes, they were Bosnians - great guys, even used to have their tea on the go! Mind you, not being used to builders who start on time, the first day they showed up was a bit of a Piat d'Or moment as we'd agreed 8am Saturday start and I may not have believed they actually would be there.
Saturday work for builders, wow, that must be a first!!
I know - they did the quiet stuff (so prep type things) all week-end and were thus ready to go with the noisy bits first thing Monday - I love people who plan.
Goneshopping can I ask what you are getting done for that price?
A double storey side extension (adding a bedroom, ensuite & downstairs study behind the garage) and a single storey rear extension to provide a big family/kitchen room (this involves knocking down some of our internal walls). BTW, these prices don't include the cost of the kitchen, ensuite, flooring etc.
Isn't there now a website that lists ratings of builders tht you could check?
OP - I don't know where you are but 4 yrs ago we had a double storey extension creating bedroom and two ensuites upstairs (one to an existing bedroom but in the new build bit) plus living room and office downstairs. Quotes excluding the cost of the bathrooms but including fitting ranged from £38k to around £50k.
We ended up going with the cheaper one, having heard from a couple of people who's extensions they had done and having a look round one. In retrospect we regret it slightly as a lot of the less obvious bits are done slightly shabbily, or just not quite finished to the standard we would prefer.
We had four quotes when we had our extension done.
Quote 1) from a large regional building contractor (i.e. the type with project managers) = £180K
Quote 2) From a local (lived in next street) small builder recommended personally by our friends = £230K
Quote 3) From a builder who knocked on the door when he saw our planning permission notice and asked if he could quote. DH happened to be off work that day so invited him in, if it had just been me, I would have sent him away = £110
Quote 4) From a local reputable (but no personal recommendation) firm = £180K
We went with Quote 3, after him taking us around to his previous clients to meet them and see the work. Best decision ever - he was a fantastic builder - reliable, honest, and dealt with all snags until we were totally happy. We recommend him to everyone, and all our friends who have subsequently got him to quote for work have found him to be crazily cheaper than all their other quotes, and all have been delighted with the work. If anyone in West Yorkshire needs a builder then PM me!
So cheapest isn't necessarily the worse. And the most expensive quote doesn't necessarily mean 'they don't want the work' - builder no. 2 really thought he'd get the job and was v. upset when he didn't.
We were very lucky we got the price we did, as we unforseenly had to sell up, and had we gone for the higher quotes, we would have lost money - as it was we broke even (i.e. the extension 'paid' for itself), which was a great result in this market.
We approached about 7 builders and ended up with 3 quotes (others weren't interested, too big a job for them and/or they were too busy).
We had two which were about the same and one which was about £30k lower. Agonised about it for ages because everyone told us "never go for the cheapest". But ended up appointing him because:
- the quote was pretty detailed, so we felt confident we could challenge him if the price crept up
- we had done a bit of a filter when we first approach builders (i.e. only went for people with track record of doing big extensions locally)
- spoke to previous clients, who were all happy
- we liked the main builder and felt we could get on with him (other two were a bit smarmy!)
and - importantly - we decided we didn't really have a good reason to turn the cheaper quote down ... and we had a reasonable chance of being left with some budget for a nice kitchen etc, if all went well.
We moved into the extension last month. All has gone well. The builder has been great and so have the electrician, decorator and plasterers which he appointed. We did have a dodgy plumber, but once we had worked out that there were problems, the builder was pretty constructive about helping us sort it out. He has managed the whole job and we have felt safe in his hands.
There were some extra costs in the groundworks because it turned out our house is built on pea soup. But that would equally have been a problem for the other guys. The works he quoted for have come out on budget and on time. He has kept us well informed of "extras" that he recommended we do while we were at it. Those have come out of our 10% contingency fund (which is definitely a must).
Don't know if any of that is any use. In your position, I would ask to see a few previous projects and see if the clients seem happy to recommend. And possibly try very had to get one more quote - two is not very many.
We had a big extension 5 years ago.
DH is in the business (but we didn't tell them)
We got 5 quotes & went with the cheapest. He took a bit longer, we knew he would, but finished on time & under budget.
Sometimes firms over quote because they don't want the job.
Have you got any surveyor or QS friends that could have a look at the quotes for you?
You need more quotes and try word of mouth recommendations
I would suggest speaking personally to the previous clients and asking them very specifically were there any problems or extras, did he get things right first time, were they happy, and was the job of similar scope to yours? I know of a situation where a friend used a builder who was vaguely recommended by other mums, but it turned out her works were much more complicated, he rushed, got things wrong, he did sort of finish but it wasn't really satisfactory.
Also when you have met the builders, who do you think you can get on with and is on the right wavelength - you don't want someone either trying to upsell you to solid oak everything or cutting corners with cheap stuff if that's not what you want.
When we did our extension we had builders recommended by architect. We did not go with the cheapest because he was obviously a one man band and probably not VAT registered, and it was clear it would take him ages even if he did do a good job in the end. The second cheapest turned out to be very good. Incidentally he needed fierce chasing to do the quote but now I know he is just busy and in demand.
The worst things were the bits of work done by DH's friends in the trade who weren't really perfectionists, but I had to attempt to stay friends with them whilst getting them to correct mistakes or just deciding to live with it.
We used the cheapest and he was brilliant! He even came on Christmas Eve. He matched the bricks so that you can't see the join between the existing house and the extension - even the building regs person said that they never have had any problems with his work - so don't let price put you off. Why don't you ask if you can see any of his previous projects? Our builder had done some work for my parents, and quite a few of their neighbours so the decision was easy.
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences & offering advice, it's been really helpful. I have asked for references & have also asked another builder to give me a quote.
Its quite amazing how busy builders are at the moment in this area (south). One I asked couldn't come round to quote until the end of May! I'm still concerned that one builder estimates it to take only 12 weeks, whereas another estimates 20 (they have the same size team!). Thanks again for the advice!
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Ask to look at the previous work done by each builder and go for a drive to see the actual properties.
It is often obvious how good a build is. There is a lot of work that is average, a few that are poor, and a few that are superlative. Really look at the quality of things like brickwork. Expensive doesn't necessarily mean better, but cheap can sometimes mean bad.
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