House Build Costs – 10 Questions To Ask Your Builder
August 7, 2012
House Build Costs
How To Avoid Costly Mistakes & Get What You Want
These questions are designed to reduce the complications on site and help protect you against extra over house build costs. Too often I hear of provisional sums being allowed in peoples house build costs. When all people want to know is “How much do house build costs, cost?” Yet people forget the basics and do not tie the trades they use to the prices they have given.
Firstly a word of warning it is wise to get prices from people on all elements of your house build costs, including kitchen extensions. However you need to be absolutely sure you are comparing like for like. Whilst the temptation may be to look at the bottom corner and opt for the least expensive house build costs this can often end in tears. Unfortunately some of these get so bad they make programs out of it, cowboy this and cowboy that.
It is wise to make sure you understand what has been quoted. Start by considering is one quote more comprehensive than the other? Has one company made allowances for house build costs that another company forgot? If not what provisional sums have been made? Is the product being used the same? Is there any room for contingency planning within the house build costs?
It is great wanting to get a good deal, but don’t be suckered in to the trap of this is what it should cost and here is a bill for the bits that were not included. An experienced trade’s person should be able to give you a very accurate idea of final cost. Some might even guarantee you will not pay more!! This is down to understanding more about the quotes and how trades work.
Great questions to ask your builder:
House Build Costs – Question 1
“Will I get a complete schedule of works for building of our extension/ house building plans??”
Most people should be able to produce a schedule of what is going to happen and when .They should be able to allow a margin for unforeseen house build costs that occur on site. You need to ask if you will be receiving a full schedule from start to finish. Or have they verbally suggested a timescale? Like everything else in this world if it is not written down it has not been considered correctly.
After all in the world of commercial construction, schedules are common place. So why should you accept less in your own house building plans?
House Build Costs – Question 2
“Is there a margin in the timescales allowed for building of our extension/ house building plans?”
Have you allowed leeway in the timescales for the schedule for completing on time? When on site stuff happens but there is no reason that that time cannot be built in to the schedule. This will give you a more accurate completion date instead of one wildly optimistic. This would be especially important if there is to be a LAD’s agreement, more about that later.
House Build Costs – Question 3
“How many electrical sockets have you allowed for in our extension/ house building plans?”
This is one of my biggest bug bears, builders are very poor at getting this right and often it is wildly out of step with what you the client wants. If you are extending or building your home then really consider how many plugs you will need or want. Too often the bear minimum is allowed for and if more are required these come as extra overs. With modern day life having more electrical items more sockets is required, therefore it is very wise to really consider how many sockets you need in each room.
I know it seems like a minor detail, but if you have pushed your house build costs and at the end you are hit with £500 – £600 just for sockets then it just goes to show how flippant you have become.
As my grandmother said look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves REMEMBER this is your money to control. It does not take too many smaller additions like this to suddenly find you are over budget and closer to what someone else said in the first place.
House Build Costs – Question 4
“What lighting have you allowed for in building of our extension or house building plans?”
Again this is an area that people overlook but as I mention in my “Do Architects Think Inside The Box Enough?” We live in our houses and not outside of them. Lighting is one of the key areas most people are bothered about, in contrast one key area that seems a million miles away to a builder.
This is one the red hot provisional sum areas. Most builders when pricing up house build costs, unless the drawing specifically shows lighting arrangements and specification make allowances for one central pendant light. That’s right ONE LIGHT in each room! Most people want to have recessed spot lights just in the average kitchen alone this could add an extra £450.00 – £650.00 (Dependant on fittings)
House Build Costs – Question 5
“Who will be project managing the job and be responsible for the trades when you start building our extension or house building plans??”
This just needs to be crystal clear and in writing. WHO is your point of contact? You need one point of contact to avoid confusion. All correspondence and communication should go through them and them alone. Particularly useful if you are wanting to control house building costs.
House Build Costs – Question 6
“Who will be responsible for tidying up after you have built our extension or house building plans?”
This one is quite simple. Be very clear about what you expect? Who will remove waste? Who will clean up? Are you expecting a quick scoot round with a brush or a full professional clean? Again might as well know if this is going to add the house build costs.
House Build Costs – Question 7
“Reference Phone Numbers & Names for our house building plans or extension”
This is something you should agree you hopefully will have a job number against you quotes, however if not then do not worry. When a trades person order materials, the supplier they use will ask them if they require a job number or reference putting on the invoice. If you make sure your builder is aware that you expect this to be done and may request proof of purchases then at least you know that the materials have been ordered and they are for your job. This would stop the scenario of your money being used to fund another job and the awful situation some people find themselves in when they engage with a builder and the builder leaves half way through the job having run out of money.
House Build Costs – Question 8
“What have you allowed for the second fix and decoration of our house building plans/extension?”
Some builders may have allowed for some second fix items floor finishes, tiles, sockets as well as some painting and decorating whilst another hasn’t. Asking this question will mean at least you know. You are then comparing apples with apples.
This also give you a chance to ask for these costs if they have been included to be broken out and perhaps you can shop around for them?
House Build Costs – Question 9
Ask what insurance they carry and the value, ask to see proof of this. Using a builder who is not insured is a No No. The reasons are if you were to carry out works and as a consequence your house was damaged then you would not be able to seek to claim against them.
The cover needs to be relevant to you property and the cost to re-build it. The insurance needs to be able to cover that amount.
House Build Costs – Question 10
Have you allowed for any contingency costs with you quote?
Again this is a classic mistake as there is no room for some of the issues on site being covered. Would it be better to perhaps have a more accurate cost that has room to accommodate some of the unknowns? There is nothing wrong with asking them “In your experience what are the likely cost the can be incurred when doing this work, unknowns?”
home build cost and cost of building a house are very similar and the same control needs to be exercised when building a home. All too quickly home build cost can spiral out of control this article discusses home building and the cost of build a house