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For those that hired builders.. What kind of price differences...

Posted by Jason143NBPD (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 16:40

We are getting the initial bids/proposals back slowly and I wanted to get some input from those who hired builders/general contractors.. How much of a price difference did you see between builders? We have gotten back two estimates so far and they seem very far off..

Plans given were for a 2800 square foot, two story home with full unfinished 1400sq foot basement.. Proposals included Hardie siding and poured concrete foundation (both builders said I could change these for huge savings but priced with them).. Builder 1 came back with 450k which did not include plumbing fixtures or appliances, but did include some items we wanted like crown molding on 1st floor and running duct work in basement for future HVAC hookup.. Builder 2 has come back with 370k and includes plumbing fixtures and appliances.. Builder 1 is located in a more wealthy area, while builder 2 is located in a more middle class area.. Could the price difference simply be due to their locations and normal clients? I just feel like an 80k difference is a bit much for simple location.. I have to pick up the actual written proposal from builder 2 to do a side by side comparison but just wanted to see what others experienced..


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

When you say there's a different location, does this mean your house would be in a different location depending on the builder you choose? Or just the kinds of houses they are used to building?

I didn't take a set of plans to any builder to quote on. But I spoke to several in generalities when we first started. I was told everything between $150 and $400 per square foot. Obviously, there's a lot dependent on that price, but I felt that some of them considered themselves more upmarket, and priced themselves accordingly. Even looking at some of their existing homes in progress, there wasn't much difference in quality of build.

It can also be reflective of how busy they are. If they have more work than they can handle, they'll charge more because they can afford to lose the business. If they are not as well known, and don't have a list of people knocking on their door, they can be priced lower to build up their portfolio.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

Thanks for the quick response Amberm.. When I said location I meant where the builder is used to building/working.. The house will be built in the same location regardless of builder.. Builder 1 is in a wealthier area where houses are on the higher end of the market.. Builder 2 is located in a more middle class area.. Builder 1 is more "established".. They have a full showroom and have in house designers that will help along the way with picking out options and even help choose furniture and other finishes.. Builder 2 is also established but doesnt have a showroom or offer an on hand interior decorator and such..

Builder 1 originally said his houses come out to 115-125 per finished square feet while builder 2 said price could be anywhere from 90-150 depending on finishes..


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

We received bids from three different builders. 580, 591, and 605. We were pretty happy to find that they were all relatively close. It does seem like your two builders have a significant difference.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

I think you're paying for the showroom and interior designer.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

Thanks again for the quick replies Dreamer and Amberm.. Once I have the written proposal I will know for sure but I am starting to think the same.. I mean its nice to have a showroom where you have all the options laid out.. But 80k is a big difference.. I know both do great work.. I guess once I have everything laid out in front of me I can make the best decision.. I just want to make sure everything is being factored into the equation..

I actually just got a third bid from Builder 3 in and that one came in at 498k but gave larger allowances.. Seems like these bids are all over the place..


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

We are currently in the bidding stages right now as well...We had 2 bids come back like your two VERY far apart. Builder 1 does only custom homes and Builder 2 does lower priced neighborhoods...you know, pick from 3 plans and they build them. Builder 2 also builds custom homes....Builder 1's bid was easily 80K more than Builder 2's bid. I asked around, and one reason Builder 2 was less was he gets bulk pricing for materials and passes those savings on to custom homes...BUT the second reason it was so much less was allowances. I asked him what he'd allotted to appliances. He's put $2800 for the whole kitchen???? Well, I've already priced out my kitchen at 10-12K. So...when I went through the allowances and added on for things (like appliances, tile, flooring, etc) suddenly the difference was more like 30-40K less...which put it more in line with the other bids. Don't know if this helps...but it's my current situation. :)


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

Pw....you must be getting a high end commercial stove? A very good dish washer runs around $800 and a microwave over the stove runs about $600.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

From my experience with dishwashers, I would consider a very good dishwasher to be around $1,500 and I would want a real hood over my stove and not a microwave. Pwanna appears to be interested in a kitchen with better appliances than the builder basics and has done the homework on pricing and what appliance budget they will need. I don't think they were asking how to reduce the bids, but why the bids were so different.

We had a $100K difference in bids when we did an addition with a similar budget 2 years ago. Luckily the GC we wanted and planned on using wasn't the highest bid!


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

we are in the process of building and we met with 3 builders. We also got quotes that were quite different in price. I suggest getting a detailed specification list (I mean everything...from exterior stone, windows, interior allowances, etc) and then try to compare what the builder(s) are actually providing.

I do think that the builders who have a 'high end reputation' will be more expensive...but this could be because they have more experience, do a better job, have better subs, or have higher end finishes.

We ultimately chose a builder who had good references and seemed to put emphasis on high quality structural details. We are just getting started so we will see how things go...


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

Our bids were all over the place too. The highest bid came from a builder who was going to give me chrome faucets through the house... nothing wrong with chrome mind you. But that was my one and only choice on his bid. And he had no earthly way of processing a realistic bid on our foundation and came in way under what we suspected it would cost.

If we felt that the bids were guesswork, we eliminated that builder. At the end, we chose the builder with the highest foundation estimate and we still went way over on that item. Just gird your loins.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

Our bids were all over the place too. The highest bid came from a builder who was going to give me chrome faucets through the house... nothing wrong with chrome mind you. But that was my one and only choice on his bid. And he had no earthly way of processing a realistic bid on our foundation and came in way under what we suspected it would cost.

If we felt that the bids were guesswork, we eliminated that builder. At the end, we chose the builder with the highest foundation estimate and we still went way over on that item. Just gird your loins.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

The most accurate bids use specs developed by your architect that bid like to like. Bids comparing apples and blueberries doesn't do much for real world comparisons for a project.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

Yes, it's possibly. Ours were abut 80k apart on the two builders we whittled down to bidding out. We initially spoke to an additional two builders who were so far out of the park becasuse they deal with really high end clients and apparently get those prices. At the end of the day, there wont be a 'brand name' on your home, so it is what it is...a house. Make sure you scrutinize all the details, sometimes you don't realize certain things aren't included or there are cheaper materials.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

Apples to apples. If you must have allowances they need to be the same otherwise it is impossible to level one against the next. Specify Specify Specify!!


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

The bid that was most off for us came from the architect's building partner. The architect was present at that meeting and was visibly embarrassed by the builder's lack of knowledge about the plan. He had obviously not studied it in any detail before the meeting. Our blueprint was meticulous and very specific... and they actually argued in front of us about their own creative differences. That was a real turnoff.

It's hard to get apples to apples when people you should be able to trust are promising you anything, preparing to give you the cheapest alternative once you've signed their bottom line. The only way to avoid this crud is to educate yourself beforehand. We knew our foundation would run over 100K... it was the nature of the beast. We were quoted 20K by one builder. Another quoted 60K. Builder A had no crew that built on steep slopes so he just guessed. Builder B was going to use the same concrete guy that Builder C ended up using because he was essentially the only guy in the area anyone trusted with our engineered foundation. So there' s a big difference in a 60K bid and a 120K bid, and it has more to do with builder C making Slick (that's his name) actually sit down and study the freaking blueprint.

Our lead carpenter came to the new house with a new blueprint for the future manse down the street. He was sweating bullets over it because those people want an estimate for their custom woodwork. Our builder got the job based on what he was doing on our house, but this house will really push the envelope as it is a trilevel foundation with about 6000 square feet. I have to respect the care and attention he gave that blueprint. He already knows every inch of trim in that house. Still, I know they will make their best estimate for costs- with as little guesswork as possible. I just didn't see all builders themselves as "apples to apples". Some are really lazy about doing their homework or assume they will talk you into cheaper options later on so they can get close to their underbid. There are a ton of things a client has to be aware of... EDUCATE yourself on all aspects of your project so you are not fresh meat to some of these arrogant so and so's.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

When prices are that far off it is generally high markups. Local builders get the same material prices and the labor prices should be close based on the individual plan. It does not matter where the builder usually builds it only matters where the house that is being bid on is being built. Ask for labor and material breakdowns, but if the price is that much higher you are getting screwed.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

jbennet- here is a picture of the high part of my foundation. This was engineered and the plans were available to all the bidders. The reason we knew which bid was closest was by calculating the cost of the fill dirt... programmer husband, engineer son. We knew this was no 20K job.


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RE: For those that hired builders.. What kind of price difference

duplicate delete.

This post was edited by musicgal on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 17:41


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