In a recent blog post, I wrote about the two main ways you can have plans developed for your home:
- Starting with a blank sheet of paper, then having an architect design a custom home made just for you from the ground up
- By finding a set of plans on the Internet, and either using them exactly as they are, or modifying those plans.
Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, and we’re happy to work with clients using either one. But whichever path you choose, what should you do if you now have a set of plans in hand, but haven’t selected a builder yet? How can you get a builder to help you find out what your home will cost?
In the past, clients would generally have plans drawn up, then send them “out for bid,” collecting estimates from several builders, then choosing a builder based on which bid they found most competitive.
The biggest challenge in a competitive bid scenario like this is in procuring bids that all represent equal scopes of work. A set of residential construction plans clearly identifies structural work, but that’s about it. The rest of the project is usually fairly open to interpretation, and you’ll get as many interpretations to the finishes and quality levels of your project as bids you procure, and the typical home building client doesn’t have the knowledge or expertise to put the various bids on equal ground.
In other words, how do you make you don’t end up with “apples to oranges” bids that aren’t for the exact same scope? Never fear—the home building client has two good options at their disposal.
Option #1: interview a few reputable builders in your area.
From those interviews, you should be able to be determine:
- General price parameters for that builder for your type of home.
- A rough estimate for the cost of the project. Generally, a builder will be willing to spend a few hours reviewing plans to arrive at a rough cost for a project, utilizing their typical square footage costs, and looking for anything that is out of the ordinary or may the skew the project outside of the normal range of square footage pricing.
- The overall quality of communication between you and the builder. Different people have different communication styles, and different personalities. This is an often overlooked but hugely important part of the builder selection process; you need to select a builder you’re comfortable with where there’s good interaction and communication.
- The builder’s schedule and availability.
- The builder’s references.
From these criteria, the home building client should be able to select a builder, and enter into either a pre-construction contract, where the level of finishes and final costs are finalized, and then a construction contract after that, or the client and builder can enter directly into an actual construction contract.
Option #2: hire a consultant to create a detailed scope of work, then collect bids.
The second option is to hire a consultant to assemble a detailed scope of work that, in conjunction with the building plans, will result in an “apples to apples” scenario with the various bids. The consultant needs to be aware of the budget, and have a solid grasp of building costs and value engineering options available. This is a time-consuming task that requires a tremendous amount of attention to detail but will pay big dividends.
Finding a consultant for this Scope of Work document can sometimes be a challenge. Often, a recently retired builder can be the best person for this. In a pinch, the home building client could potentially conscript one of the potential builders for the task, depending on the temperament of the builder. This can be a very good method to employ if you have one builder that you’d prefer to use, but still feel the need to vet their price point.
At Paramount Homes, we are happy to work with either scenario. If you already have a scope of work, and are looking for a bid, feel free to contact us and send us your plans. Or, if you just want to interview builders, give us a call or use our contact form to get in touch and we’ll be very happy to meet with you and learn about the home you want to build.
Mike Rice is a custom home builder in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As the president of Paramount Homes, he has over 30 years of experience in construction. Originally from California, he moved to Colorado with his wife and three sons to seek out the natural beauty and high quality of life we enjoy here. Mike is licensed as a builder in El Paso, Teller, and Douglas Counties and would love to build your dream home. Contact him today at (719) 331-4116 to learn more.