Getting ready to submit plans for bids! Ideas please?

redheadeddaughterMarch 25, 2014

So we finally have construction and structural plans ready to give to the builders we are considering. Does anyone have advice/suggestions for what to include at this stage?

Should we send a "cover" letter or will the plans pretty much give them everything they want to know?

Should I give them all the sketches of my kitchen and laundry area? ;) I figure this would help with the cabinets portion of the bidding process, since I am foregoing alot of upper cabinets in order to get flush inset. But I've been told this might overwhelm the builders. Is this really true? If my kitchen plans overwhelm the builders at this stage I think I want a more experienced builder, right? Or is this something I really need to negotiate once we choose the builder? One thing I don't want to do is haggle over the cabinets after we sign the contract. I've also found a cabinet maker I really like, and a flooring source I really like. Both with quotes for my particular ideas. Are these ever included in the initial bid package?

I would love to hear what the folks here on GW did and what worked best for you! Please share?

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The more specific and spelled out you can have your bid, the less likely you'll run into cost over-runs on your actual build.

The fewer allowances, the less likely you'll have surprise costs later.
I would absolutely SPECIFY your cabinets (not just here is a picture).
Are you going for fixed price contract?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 7:45PM
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Hi Kirkhall, Thanks for responding. Yes, we are doing a fixed price contract as our bank requires it. Can you explain in layman's terms what would be included in the cabinet specifications? So far I have "flush inset, no toe kick." Do I need to detail each drawer and shelf and hinge type? My fear is that the poor builder will think I'm one of those nitpicky types. ;) And I kind of am when it comes to the kitchen. But I can go with the flow with alot of other stuff too. I don't want to begin on the wrong foot with this person we will be having a fairly involved relationship with.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 8:03PM
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I would provide specifications on as much as possible to get the most accurate bid. You could put all that information with a cover document and just say that for better accuracy here are the specs.

You want to cover everything that you care about choosing. From number of paint colors, flooring choices, bath fixtures, kitchen cabinets, roofing, siding, windows, light fixtures, insulation, type of plumbing (pex or copper), HVAC requirements, hardware, etc. Any lumber requirements such as you want the blue framing, or thickness of decking -plywood or strand board, house wrap etc.

If you don't include it in the specs assume that the price you get is what the builder normally uses. This may or may not be above your standards.

I think the more detail you provide the more likely you are to get a price that is accurate barring material cost changes as time goes on.

Knowing what the builder bid on will also make it easier to compare the bids. Otherwise you will be sorting through when comparing to find out what an allowance really included. For example one may assume a lower level of light fixtures than another.

This post was edited by lyfia on Wed, Mar 26, 14 at 10:44

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 10:43AM
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I second lyfia's post. If you have a manufacturer for the cabinets or flooring you want ABSOLUTELY include it. If you know you want soft close, euro hinges - spell it out. If you want all drawer bases - make it known. You may mention they can submit approved alternates (which means you would have to approve the product before they bid it). Or you could request voluntary deducts, in which case anything you did specify they would recommend a similar product but the cost savings would be spelled out for you. I can't speak for residential but in commercial construction the more detailed you are the more time you save them in bidding because they don't have to 'search' or guess at what you want. Realize too, that while it could seem annoying to bother them with specifics in the early stages, the GC is having his subs bid out the project. He will basically take the plan and specs to his carpenter or kitchen guy and they will give him a price which he adds up along with the drywall, HVAC, plumbing, framing, concrete, masons etc numbers and puts a little padding on for his fee. (I'm not knocking GC's, as an architect myself I still intend to hire one for our build - whenever it happens.)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:44AM
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Sweetie, you are one of those 'nitpicky types' (LOL) Don't try to hide it, embrace it! If the builder is overwhelmed, find a new builder. I know you have VERY specific ideas about your home...and it's not going to be like most other homes they're building.

You are a CUSTOM home type and you need a CUSTOM home builder. If they're not used to being micro-managed, then I'm guessing they aren't building that many custom homes.

I would want to be very detailed. Include pictures, companies you want to use, architectural drawings of all specialized nooks etc. This is your dream home! If they can't do what you want EXACTLY, find someone who can :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 1:05PM
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Okay! Great advice here. I'm printed out a "portfolio" of sorts for each builder with a section for windows, a section for cabinets, a section for floors, etc. So hopefully that will simplify things as they send it to their subs. And I'll just embrace my "nitpicky" ness. I'm okay with that. This stage is so exciting. Is there a stage that isn't? ;)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 3:27PM
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Honestly, when I was helping my mom with her retirement house...I applied the organizational skills I used for my wedding! LOL I put everything into "the book" (a 3-ring binder) and kept samples of everything with me at all times. There could be other books and files for more detailed info, but having every sample (or at least a picture) in one place makes it so much easier to stay organized.

If you know exactly what you want and what you will be much easier for the GC and the subs. You won't have to delay construction looking for a faucet or lighting fixture. You'll know what matches the powder room and what hardware you have in the master bath, without having to go find anything.

From what I've seen, most builds go sideways because people don't do ENOUGH research. Know exactly what you want, what trim, what window styles, the paint colors, the fixtures, etc. and no detail is too small. So many people seemed to get burned out about 2/3 of the way through the build...and I don't think that would be as much of a problem if you've already made as many decisions as possible.

Oh, and have options B and C ready, in case your first choice is not available, not affordable or is going to take too long to arrive. Hope that helps :) wedding was not that fancy, but we did have 3 flower girls and a ring bearer. Every one of my nieces wanted to be in it! LOL And they were all adorable.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:17PM
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LL: I think it's so neat you made space for all your nieces in your wedding... I bet it was lovely! My wedding was super small but I was marrying the man of my dreams so it was perfect.

I have 5 binders packed full already of build stuff... I might need to narrow it down for this bidding stage and then surprise the builder of our choice with my lovely "organizational" skills! ;) I even have pictures of the way I want my hardwood floors laid out. And my "Anne of Green Gables" screen door. And my super cheap wood appliance pulls I want to stain myself. If he gets even 1/2 of the stuff into this build I will be thrilled beyond belief.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:34AM
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I recommend telling bidders exactly what you want,
1) so that you might get it
2) so that you can compare bids (apples to apples)

From a bidder's point of view, a project with complete drawings and specifications is FAIR, they can worry less that a competitor will underbid them simply by filling in a blank with something cheaper. This may also make the difference between a bidder responding or not, or between a bidder spending a lot of time putting together a solid bid vs. throwing a high estimate at it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 12:21PM
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