apples to apples

applesNow that you have selected your list of potential builders and provided your floor plan and spec sheet, you are left to wait until they come back with their pricing. It’s important to fully understand what is and isn’t included in the pricing they provided to help create an apple to apple comparison. I would suggest setting up a meeting to work line by line with the builder on their spec sheet so there are no misunderstandings. This discussion can spur more questions and bring additional clarity on various topics. Some common points for discuss include:

How do you handle and define a change order?

  • Change orders generally come into play when you want to make a change after your plans have been finalized and construction has begun. All builders handle these differently. Some builders have an extra fee associated with these (cost plus) upwards of 15-20%.

When are selections due?

  • Selections are the finishes for your house like appliances, floors, paint, doors, and so forth. We have seen some builders that like all selections made up front before construction begins and other builders that take a staged approach and start with the longer lead time items or exertion items first. It takes a lot of time to pick out everything for a house so you need to be able to plan and schedule your time accordingly.

When do you order the selections, at the time the selection is made or just in time for build?

  • Depending upon the time between when your selections are made and when they would be needed for install, the price could vary a bit. A lot of builders will order just in time so they aren’t also carrying a cost for storage. Some warranties also start from the time of order and not the time of install so for items with limited warranties like appliances, it may be beneficial to wait. In each of the builder’s contracts, they should address this point and how they will handle an increase in prices.

Do you include low voltage wiring for outdoor/ landscape lights?

  • This is an item that is typically overlooked until later in the plans. Consider if you are planning to have any type of landscape / low voltage lighting outside or holiday decorations like Christmas lights.

The first thing we did once we started to get pricing back was to create a spreadsheet. As each builder provided pricing, we added them to the same sheet. Inevitably, builders are going to give you different allowances for the same items so you need to normalize them to the amount you think you will spend (research before will help you with your cost estimating). After we had clarification meetings with each potential builder and normalized their pricing, we sat down to make a decision about who to move forward with and sign a contract to build a house!



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