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  1. #1

    Quotations from Builders....

    I've been a carpenter and general builder for nearly 10 years. I feel confident in my abilities, and have learnt from quality tradesmen. I've been doing small private jobs at the weekends for a few years now and feel it's time to move on to bigger and better things.
    The problem is..... I've learnt a how to do jobs when they are given to me, but I haven't learnt how to price jobs that arnt only reliant on me, how to schedule the works of a job that last longer than 4/5 days, how to manage different tradesmen coming in and out and what the expectations of a customer might be when they receive a quote.
    I've got my first big project to go and price on Friday morning, a kitchen and bathroom refurb. My question is simply:
    What would you guys expect? How would you expect your quite to be written out? What details should be involved? Do you think there is software a carpenter/buffer should use like google docs etc? I want to give the best service possible not only in my workmanship but in the quality of the information I provide, my productivity and organisation. What would your idea be off the complete builders package?
    Please feel free to add any relevant information that I may off missed or not asked.
    Kind regards

  2. #2
    I handle builders quotes regularly for clients and they vary a great deal.
    - so if you are even asking this question then you are already the sort of builder I want to be doing business with!

    The quotations which most impress me are ones which show some breakdown - ie not just a bottom line figure. The client can then see where the money is going and why, plus any adjustments necessary can be made and understood easily. You will know that the price offered is rarely the one which is paid at the end of the day.

    If you are familiar with spreadsheets then I would recommend you set up a sheet for the job showing the various items etc at the quotation stage. No need to break everything down to 'materials',' labour', 'plant' - just use items like; 'floor', 'kitchen units', 'electrics', "externals'. The sheet will also record that, for example, the kitchen appliances are a 'provisional sum' figure, or 'supplied by client' etc.
    Also include site setup costs or skip hire etc at x for y weeks, thereby recording how long you are saying the job will take. ( even if x is zero)

    Give the client a clear understanding of how you will expect to be paid ie monthly or by stages, and once you get the job, if possible, offer a cashflow forecast indicating the approximate amounts to be invoiced and when. Don't ask for payment up-front if you can possibly help it because this is looks un-professional in my view and sets alarm bells ringing.

    Once your quote has been accepted but before starting on site, be clear about and agree your proposed hours of work, using the client's power, water, siting of skip, radios, etc. so there are no arguments. Be clear about areas you will and wont have access to, and reassure the client by mentioning any protective measures you intend to install eg stair carpet protection.

    I don't think there's any need to go much further than this unless you want to get into drawings, specifications and contracts which you probably don't really need for small works like you are describing.

    Good luck on Friday!

  3. #3
    I agree with Richard C. The more detailed the better. However, make sure you leave some room for wobble (or alternatively agree with the client that the costs are agreed based on X, Y and Z which could be subject to change and any overruns would be agreed before the additional work is carried out).

    The best idea may be to create a summary sheet (3-4 phases with the budget for each) and included behind the detail for each section. This gives the client the opportunity to read whichever level of detail they feel the most comfortable with.

  4. #4
    What Richard said! Excellent answer.

    It drives me mad when I just get a number with no sense of how that number was arrived at. By breaking it down you reassure the client that you've understood the scope of work, and you provide opportunities to de-scope if a line item is non-essential and turns out to be more expensive than they thought.

    Also make clear whether prices include or exclude VAT, and whether materials are included.

    And as Graham notes, it never hurts to make clear that while you won't do extra work without getting their approval first, they should have a contingency in their budget for any nasty surprises.

  5. #5
    Thanks guys for your great replies, I did intend to do a breakdown of costs and works schedule.
    I also intended to do instalment payments for each stage, but I was going to ask for an initial payment upfront to get the works started.
    Hopefully just by me starting this post you can see my intentions are not to look unprofessional, but I just don't have the cash flow at this moment in time to find the initial stages of a project and I don't like accounts.
    I'm hoping this won't count against me to much?
    When it comes to contingencies for potential problems would you allow a percentage in the price so the customer is aware?



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