Turning down a contractor's bid proposal

robyn393July 11, 2008

We are building our first home and spoke with a guy who is familiar to us through our son's school. He is a GC and we told him upfront that we were subbing out our jobs and would like for him to bid on foundation and blacking it in. We told him we were getting all materials and his proposal would be for labor cost only. Picked up the "CONTRACT" today and here is the low-down:

Foundation $20,000- includes materials and labor

Dtywall- 12,000.00- includes materials and labor

Windows - 5,000- they are the cheap ones :(

Framing materials -$47,000

Labor cost- 30,000

Pump Truck - 1,500(which we have been told we would not need unless it was muddy- it has not rained here in 3 months!)

Rough-in plumbing- 3,100

Upcharge and misc. $16,000.00


It roughly totals $126,000.

1) We asked for labor cost only

2) He is subbing all jobs out and then making mark-up already

3) His framing cost is almost twice as high as others

4) Windows and drywall??? Was that included just to add to the 16,000... mark-up???

We still have to contract a brick mason, electrician,roofers, plumber for inside, septic system, finisher, painter, flooring-tiling guy and still have to pay for materials such as: bricks, electrical supplies and fixtures, cabinets, applicances, paint, flooring, roofing, habdware and fixtures, plumbing supplies.......... I could go on...

I realize that a general contractor is doing my job is I employ him to oversee jobs, but I did not ask for him to do anything but get a bid on the foundation and labor to rough-it in. I can understand an up-charge on those things I asked him to do, but where did the materials come in and the drywall and the windows.....when I do not want them included in the up-charges. I feel TAKEN! We have priced the framing materials and the MOST we can come up with is $19,000.00. We that is without the 12percent discount the home building store is giving us.

So........... our next call will be to say........thanks, but no thanks. Sorry our time was wasted. Both mine and yours. But when it comes to business, and building my hone is my business when I am spending my mighty dollar, I can not afford to pay someone $50,000 over what I can get the work done for myself by subbing it out. That would make my house payment go up 500 for dollars a month at least. UGHHHH

Now we are back at square one...looking for sub-contractors ourselves.

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He is a GC. He gave you his bid, which he has a perfect right to do. How did he waste your time? You read his bid. It wan't what you wanted, and now you can turn it down. If you are acting as your own GC, why would you ask a GC to bid part of the job. I don't understand.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 7:54PM
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i agree. he gave you extra bids just in case you might want to use him. if its too high just reject it.
if you get this worked up over just the bidding process you
are going to have a stressful build.dealing with contractors is part of the game.
one of the most useful things a gc brings to the game is his list of subs. he knows the people that will do the job right and you dont.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 9:12PM
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My problem is that he gave me a bid on jobs I did not ask for him to bid out. Also, I asked for labor cost alone. That is my beef. Are you a GC? He wasted his time and mine as well by not bidding what was asked of him.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 9:17PM
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isn't it beneficial to learn what the add'l items/subs would cost? seems like he did you a favor? no harm done. move on if you want.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 11:47PM
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Kate- yes it was beneficial in a way... those are the subs we were gonna use anyway, but I did not expect to see them included in his proposal along with materials, mainly due to the GC 15% added to each job subbed out. I am not mad or angry with him, just disappointed that it did not work out the way we had discussed........breakdown of communication? He is a really nice guy and an excellent builder, but for the money.......too high.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 12:38AM
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You feel "TAKEN" because he gave you a bid on stuff you didn't ask for? Wow, you are going to have a rough build . . .

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 11:23AM
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Like others Robyn, I'm not sure what you seem to be so upset with. He is in the business to make money...ergo, he will have a "mark-up" on things he subs out. If you have the same contacts for subs as he does, then tell him thanks for his time and go forward on your own. Get a couple of foundation bids from others and judge/guess which one you would like to go with and hopefully you can line up your subs and deal with all the logistics as GC.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 11:44AM
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I feel such love from all of you in the responses you have given me. I am feeling all warm and fuzzy. Wow.... never knew that my little rant would create such negativity. I can tell you have all put yourselves in my position. Seems to me from the responses:"if you get this worked up over just the bidding process you are going to have a stressful build."
I am too emotionally upset to build a home. I thought this was a supportive forum. I have been reading the post for months and am shocked by some of the responses. Learned my lesson............ no more posting.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 1:26PM
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he bid materials with the labor probally because if he isnt furnishing materials he will not warrenty them.

I know of no builder that is gonna warrenty anything furnished by a HO. HOs want the cheapest they can find. Most have no idea about quality or what works best.

He is business to make money. He has to mark up materials and subs to make a profit. Do you have any idea how much insurance and other overhead cost for us professional contractors. He didnt waste your time, you wasted his.
This is why many charge for estimates. I assume he did a free estimate on your job. I think he knew what he was in for and added the PITA charge on top.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 2:16PM
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Robyn, You first have to educate yourself on the process and put yourself in the builders position and understand their method of operation. There are many ways that builders operate regarding contracts, such as fixed price contracts, cost plus, time and materials, and i know of a co worker of my wifes who handed their checkbook and said "build our house" , no contract. When seeking out a g.c., your first question of them is how they operate and are they open minded to your ideas and wants with your project. Finding a reputable builder who is succesful that will operate outside of their normal realm is tough because the reason they are succesful is that they have a system that works for them as well as their customers. You can't expect anyone to step outside of an operation that works and you should do a little more research on how most reputable builders operate and decide what will work for you. You might be paying what you think is too much , but in the long run, a reputable builder with quality subs will save you money in the long run with a build that has less hassles and cost overruns for you. If you go cheap, expect to pay for it later down the road.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 3:59PM
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Here's a link that might help:

Here is a link that might be useful: process and more

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 4:13PM
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if you get this upset and haven't moved the first
shovel of dirt, it certainly is not going to get better.

I think everyone just wonders why you feel you were
taken..when you didn't pay any money, and got more
info than you requested. Sounds like a cream deal to me.

hope you'll stop being so defensive and sensitive and
allow the good folks here to do the things they do so well..
supply information for...no money.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 10:06PM
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Hang in there! You will do just fine. Minor setback, chin up and enjoy the process. I do understand how valuable a GC can be in building a home, but like you, I am on a very tight budget. Does it mean I just give up and say.... no house?... NO... just means that I will learn as I go, work twice as hard, research and educate myself more and surround myself with great friends (who have built their own homes..haha) and family and keep God first in everything! Good Luck!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 8:50AM
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I'm with Robyn on this. We went round and round with GCs who didn't bid what we asked (quality of materials for us, not which jobs), and it really wasted my time. I could care less if he wastes his time, but don't waste mine.

We ended up GC'ing it ourselves. Instead of having the GC waste my time, I'm spending my time organizing and scheduling. I won't kid you, it's not fun, but it's big money and easier to get each sub to do what you want then get a GC to do the whole job right.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 7:34AM
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If you think you have been treated roughly here, you should seriously reconsider building... It is NOT a gentile past time. You really need to stand your ground in order to get what you want!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 12:55PM
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If you're GCing yourself, why on earth did you ask a GC for a foundation bid in the first place? You bid that out to a concrete specialist, after the dirt work is done, after the engineer signs off on the site and foundation plans. You also would need to have the rough plumbing work done before the foundation pour. If you can't figure out how to coordinate all of those things, then I can understand why you asked a GC to bid it out, but then why are you GCing in the first place if you can't get past the foundation pour by yourself? It only gets more complicated. And, if 19K is all you can muster at the foundation stage, you are going to be woefully underfinanced for the rest of the long haul and your bank should be concerned about the overall build.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 9:20PM
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If you're still out there... the process to which you are referring (we call it "getting dry" here) is actually becoming quite common, given the current market and people becoming more money conscientious.

My builder, a good friend (and I used to be his bookkeeper) does this sort of thing all the time. You do have to realize that he will make a good 15% - 20% regardless of how much you want him to do. However, if you are feeling uneasy and "taken," you really should look elsewhere... you need to feel comfortable with your GC and have a level of trust established.

Now I'm not sure where you are located, but ALL of those numbers look right on to me. That framing number must include the labor as well though. Around here they tend to charge $7 - $8 per square foot (labor only). And my husband is a plumber... that rough-in plumbing number is incredibly reasonable.

I know you want to save money by purchasing your own materials, but that's just not feasible in the early stages. For instance, you would have no idea how many studs, nails, joists, etc. to buy. You wouldn't get the same contractor pricing either (we get a HUGE discount with our plumbing supplier). This is something you may want to take on further into the project for finish materials (i.e. cabinets, countertops, flooring, fixtures, etc).

Hope this helps :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 4:03AM
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