Tag: quotes

Jacqui Simpson

This guest post is from Jacqui Simpson of True Colours Decorating Services.

Your home needs decorating and it is time to call in the cavalry, but you have no idea as to which officer to pick. So you invite different decorating companies round to give you quotes and then you are really confused, as the quotes that you receive are very different in cost, layout and information. How do you know which is the best one to go for? And why don’t you just go with the cheapest?

When judging a quote, the first thing to make sure of is that each of them is offering the same level of service and materials. You should always ask for a detailed quote that states what is actually going to be done, how it is going to be achieved and which brand of products will be used. This will then allow you to make a true comparison and make an informed decision. Although you will also want to know something about the kind of knowledge that your potential decorator possesses. So, if you are having wallpaper, did the decorator explain about cross lining and the benefits of having it done? This is not looking for extra work but an essential part of the job if you want your wallpaper to look good. Think how much wallpaper paper can cost and how much time you have spent looking for the perfect paper. Do you really want to be left  disappointed by the finished result due to your decorator cutting corners?

There are more practical points to consider when choosing your decorator too. Do you feel that you can get on with them? Do they have the right kind of insurance? Do they have good references and present themselves in a positive and helpful manner? Do you feel they have enough knowledge to give expert advice?  Don’t be afraid to ask them questions on how they are going to deal with things. After all, you are paying for their expertise and skill, they should be willing to display some of it before you hire them.

Something that many people fail to remember when hiring a tradesman or tradeswoman is that cheapest is not always necessarily best. In fact it is rarely the case. For example, when buying a second hand car the cheaper it is the older it is and the more it probably has wrong with it. Sometimes you are buying yourself trouble by buying cheaply. Pay peanuts and you get monkeys. Somebody who has taken the time to go to college for three years to get qualifications, has worked as an apprentice or has time served will have respect for your home and their trade. Therefore they will not belittle their craft or themselves by producing unrealistic quotes that are not cost efficient in order to get the job. In other words, whenever possible always opt for a little quality rather than cheapest quote you can find.

The quality of materials is very important when thinking about having your home decorated. If you think of paint as you would about something like baked beans then you know there is always a difference between the likes of Heinz and Lidl’s own brand when it comes to taste and quality. The same obviously goes for paint (although we can’t vouch for the taste!). Therefore, when comparing quotes always check that the paint being quoted for is what you requested. You can’t compare like with like if one painter says they will use Dulux and another says they will use something from a discount supermarket and if you are quoted for Farrow and Ball then Farrow and Ball is what you should get.

All in all you should go with someone who gives you confidence, will respect you and your home and not cut corners just to win the job.

As the old proverb says: “Good things are not cheap, cheap things are not good!”

If you are a tradesman or tradeswoman who feels he/she has a view to share then please contact us on press@mybuilder.com.

Why you should pay for quotes

As consumers, we are used to comparing prices. After all, a better deal is usually only a mouse click away. But this has become so much a part of everyday life that the mere suggestion of paying someone to give you a quote sounds utterly absurd. Well, call me absurd, but I’m about to suggest that you do just that. I firmly believe that it’s often in your interest to pay for a quote from a builder.

Let’s take the case of a house extension. “How much will it cost to extend my house?” you might ask a builder. “How long is a piece of string?” he would reply. “Ha ha, but really… roughly how much?”

Your question seems reasonable enough to you. Of course you understand that it depends exactly what kind of extension you want, but you still need to know roughly how much you’re looking at before you decide. Will it be £20,000, £40,000 or (heaven forbid) £60,000? Of course, it’s easy enough for a builder to ask a few straightforward questions and reply with one of those numbers as a ‘guesstimate’. However, most good builders would not do that and with good reason.

A house extension is very complicated, not least because it involves an existing property, which has all kinds of quirks, constraints, unique problems and unknowns. It also requires teamwork and careful orchestration of multiple trades. But even before you hit all those problems, you need to decide what exactly you’re building… which is not easy in itself.

In order to start getting to grips with the scale and cost of a project, you need a plan. Getting a plan drawn up and then getting a detailed quote for the project is a huge amount of work. If that’s not done properly, you’re off to the worst kind of start. And, unless you’re Usain Bolt, you’re not going to end up with a good finish if you don’t have a good start.

Even after the plans are drawn up, there are still so many things the builder needs to think about and account for. Let’s start before the job can… what is the access like? Can you easily dump the materials in the right spot or do you have to carry them, brick by brick, through the front door and out the back door through the kitchen? Time is money.

What kind of spec are you looking for? What kind of materials? Each bit needs to be looked at carefully. A kitchen tap can be £50 or £200. Then you have the unknowns. These are the potential problems that a builder might run into but can’t predict up front… like digging the foundations and discovering an ancient burial ground that unleashes a poltergeist. Hey, it happens! What about structural problems with the house that were unforeseen? Asbestos? A nasty wasp nest that sends the builders screaming down the road and afraid to come back? You get the idea. Building is a risky business and you never know what’s around the corner. Careful preparation pays off, but it takes time.

If you tell a builder that you’re not 100% sure if you’re going to do the project or which builder you’re going to use if you do, but that you want a free quote to help you decide, then you should not be surprised if the builder does not want to spend the necessary time preparing a good, well thought out quote. Working for free is not a good way to stay in business, so inevitably you will get a ‘guesstimate’, which is worse than useless.

Why so, you ask? Well, if the guess is too high and you hire the builder, you’ve paid too much. If it’s too low, you’ll pay for it later.

We hear stories all the time where homeowners get ‘quotes’ ranging from £25,000 to £60,000 for an extension. This happens no matter where you find your builders and it’s simply because builders can’t justify the time spent to prepare a proper quote for free. Getting a bad quote is bad for the client whether it’s too high OR too low.

You are buying a service from a builder, which needs to be delivered over a long time period and they operate on tight margins. If a quote is significantly too low, the builder is likely to run out of money and won’t be able to afford to continue paying subcontractors and buying materials. It’s not just a case of turning up to work for nothing, it’s a case of not being able to pay the plasterer, electrician and plumber to finish the job. And the subcontractors definitely won’t work for free just to make sure you get your new kitchen or conservatory. If you get into this situation as a client, it’s really bad news. You either pay more or pay a lot more or the quality of the project is at risk.

If you opt for giving your builder more money it could possibly end up costing more than the highest guesstimate you got. If you can’t pay then you’ve got an unfinished project. If you source another builder to finish the job it will probably cost even more time and money, since they have to schedule you in, get to grips with the project and figure out what is left to do. It’s not the sort of thing that builders relish doing, so it might even be hard to find a good builder who wants to take it on. So, quite obviously you want to avoid getting into that situation to begin with, at almost any cost.

So, what is the cost of avoiding this outcome? For a couple of hundred quid, you can get a well-prepared, itemised quote, which will be refunded if you hire the builder. If you don’t hire the builder then you still have a proper quote to use as a benchmark for other builders. It’s money well spent and definitely one of the most sensible things you can do if you’re undertaking a complex building project.

Photo by Images of Money


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