Building Quotes: How to avoid hidden costs

Building Quotes: How to avoid hidden costs
Building Quotes and avoiding hidden costs is possible if you know what to look for. Not all building quotes are created equal!

If you are embarking on a home building or renovation project, you have probably contacted several builders and have their quotes in your hot hands.

Some may look cheaper than the others, but are there hidden costs?

Learn what to look for and why a cheaper quotes may cost you more in the long term.

Building Quote: Ensure everything has been included

This seems obvious, but it is important to ask what has been excluded from the quote. Do not assume that everything that you requested to be included has been accounted for.

Common items to be excluded from a quote may include:

  • Fencing

  • Landscaping

  • Painting

  • Air Conditioning

  • Security

  • Council Fees

Your quote to build should clearly list items that are excluded. If it doesn’t, ask your builder to provide a written list of exclusions, do not accept a verbal list. Check this list carefully and ensure that you go into a building contract with your eyes wide open.

Check that quality materials have been specified

Building prices can vary due to different types and grades of materials specified. If a builder is very cheap, and their quote seems significantly low, you will need to ask more questions about the materials supplied.

For example:

Ask whether the quote includes treated pine or untreated pine?

A quality builder should always use treated pine to ensure that you have maximum protection against termites and borers.

Has the builder only allowed for budget level, low quality fixtures?

Allowing a very small budget amount for items such as door handles, bathroom fittings and kitchen appliances will inevitably result in expensive variations. When this happens, the total cost of variation will very quickly add up and blow your budget by thousands of dollars.

Don't cheat yourself - quality materials will stand the test of time.

Pay for the best quality that you can afford at the start. Do not be convinced that cheap fixtures and fittings will save you money.

In the long term, poor quality fittings and building materials will not stand the test of time as they will break or wear out easily. This means that the future capital gains in your home may be affected as a result.

Quality building projects with quality materials and quality workmanship will appreciate the value of your home at a greater rate and your will get a greater return on your investment in the future.

Variation Fees: the classic hidden cost!

Has your builder specified what they charge as an administrative fee for variations?

If this is not specified then you need to ask. All Building and renovation projects have variations from time to time – don’t believe anyone who suggests otherwise!

Did you know that most builders charge an administration fee between $250 to $1000 per variation?

It is not unusual for the average renovation project to have between 10 to 20 variations per project. This means with 10 variations at an administration fee of $1000, you could be adding $10,000 to your project! Before you commit to the builder, check if they charge variation fees and add this into your budget.

Why do building projects have variations?

Variations occur any time you request a change to the building project scope. This can be for a very small item such as adding extra electrical points. Or, it may be for a larger item such as changing your Alfresco ceiling from plasterboard to cedar lining.

We are humans and we change our minds! It happens to all of us!

Will the builder complete the job on time? The hidden cost of rent.

Chances are you will need to rent and live elsewhere during your home building project. If your building project runs over time, you will need to accommodate for the additional rent you will pay each week/month. Always keep a buffer for this.

How can you safeguard against the delivery date running over schedule?

Find out if the builder has a track record of delivering on time. To do this, ask the builder if they have completed similar projects in your area and how long they took to complete them. Don’t just take their word for it, you should also:

  • Ask for references and ring up their previous clients.

  • Ensure that any dates promised will be written into your contract.

For more information about building quotes and how to avoid these hidden costs, please contact the expert contributor for this article.

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