How will you select your contractor? Will you complete your design work and then go out to bid with two or three builders? Or, instead, will you interview several builders, select your favorite one, and work together as a team to achieve a quality, affordable project, using a path called a cooperative bid?
When you and your designer/builder aim for the same goals, including your budget, we find that a cooperative bid is the most successful strategy. Together, you and your contractor create an affordable project by working cooperatively. You accomplish this by modifying the design and specifications that affect the price:
The size of the home or affected area.
The quality of the materials selected.
The complexity of the design.
The team. Who does what? (Often a client will take on portion(s) of the work in order to buy down the project price.)
A cooperative bid works like this: if your project price is too high, the team of you, your designer and your estimator adjusts the design and specifications and this modified project is priced again. Usually this process takes a few iterations before nailing the right price for the right design and the right specifications.
We find this choice of either competitive bidding or cooperative bidding is a decision you should decide upon very early on.
Be aware that there are many ways to cut corners in construction to create a low price. What do you want the low bidder to leave out of your project: quality materials; a safe work environment; the appropriate attention to detail; attentive and experienced site management; hiring proven, quality subs? Perhaps another’ contractor’s low price is due to poor estimating or an inexperienced person? What if they run out of money mid stream, leaving you high and dry?
Put another way… how can you expect your contractor to incorporate ‘best practices‘ while also offering a low price? It can’t happen. Best practices and low price are mutually exclusive.
We don’t play this game. If the end in mind for your contractor is to simply make a sale, he or she will start with the bottom line in mind. We prefer to start with a different end in mind….. you, your dwelling, and the peace of mind you will have when we, together, negotiate the price for a project that optimizes the combination of price and performance.
Our goal is to create an affordable project while incorporating best practices. If we can’t make it affordable, we both lose, don’t we? And, in the long run, since best practices will yield a project that will last so much longer than poor workmanship, isn’t this the best value for the money you invest into your project?
Yes, there’s no getting around the fact that best practices cost more than cutting corners. You do get what you pay for. Best practices do yield a higher first cost. Then, over time, the efficiency, performance and durability of best practices keep paying you back in lower maintenance, lower operating costs, and fewer repairs.
In the end, we’re convinced that a higher first cost is, in the long run, the lowest price you can pay for your project! If you understand this as well, you’re our type of client!
Instead, if you’re after a low first cost, we’re not the right contractor for you. It’s that simple.
In one survey of satisfied homeowners, the most important attributes of a good contractor, in their order of importance, were:
- Honesty and integrity
- On-time performance
- Good organization and scheduling
- Good subcontractors
- Good communication skills
- The ability to empathize
- Oriented towards long-term relationships
- Fair price
Note that, beyond price being listed last, the adjective is ‘fair’, as opposed to ‘lowest’. From our perspective, rewarding low price often works against the very person we’re trying to service… you !
“Kudos to you and your Project Manager for a magnificent repair job on our home. He was indeed a craftsman who knew his trade and took pride in his work. What a refreshing change in today’s climate where expediency takes the place of craftsmanship. We are so pleased to have hired A-1 Builders to do this job. You have our hearty recommendations for any and all building/remodeling/repair needs. Thank you for such fine service.” – Jack and Jean Gardner
The key, as we see the process, is for you to do your homework on your potential contractors before you allow someone to perform the actual work on your property! Research has shown that consumers will often spend less time selecting their contractor than they do in selecting a car! Instead, they tend to concentrate on the more interesting stuff, like selecting plumbing fixtures and the like.
“Fran and I do a lot of the carpentry and major maintenance work around our house. We are by no means experts or professionals. But our first-hand experience contributes to certain expectations and standards we have about professional work that is done to our home. It is because A-1 Builders meets these expectations and standards that we first turned to them for professional help and we have continued to do so over the years. There are three main reasons we turn to A-1 for professional help. First is a willingness to give appropriate consideration to what is involved in the job and to entertain possible alternative ways in which our desires can be carried out. Rick Dubrow is always willing to work with us in making sure that we are happy with all of the necessary balances that have to be made in doing remodel work. We have always been happier with the results after considering alternatives suggested by Rick than we would have been with our original ideas. Second, Rick, Al and the other guys at A-1 have the necessary skills to carry out our plans with the highest level of proficiency. Most important in having this happen are the quality controls that are applied during the building process. We are also very appreciative of A-1’s efforts to reduce, as much as possible, the adverse effects of construction on our neighbors and us. Third, we personally know that A-1 stands behind its work. It is the nature of construction work that eventually something may not go quite right. Rick and Al are forthright and honest in dealing with problems and they make sure that the job is as it should be. A-1 gets the job done and it is done well.” – George Cvetkovich