Thursday, April 26, 2012

'To Bid, or Not To Bid...'

That is the question. Everyone wants the best deal they can possibly get - I understand that. But maybe the "best deal" doesn't really involve price. Maybe the best deal involves those intangibles like "well built,"  "cleverly value engineered," or "beautifully detailed."

Let me just go ahead and say it: a competitive bid format for project pricing on a residential project is not in the best interests of the client! Here's why. The bid becomes a "story." All bidders wonder what story the client wants to hear - after all, we all want the work! But the story almost always bears little resemblance to what the project ends up costing, or looking like. Why? Because the client lives in the home represented by the story. This isn't a commercial structure we're talking about here that absolutely has to be built for the lowest possible dollar. This is a home that invariably has "creature comforts" that creep back into the building process! Those creature comforts usually cost more that the original bid projections.

Because competitive bidders all want to win the business, sometimes they cut corners to bring their overall budget in under their competition. Clearly this is not in the best interests of either the Architect or the Homeowner! Below are some examples taken from a remodel we currently have under construction - inadequate materials used and then covered up for us to find twenty years after the initial construction. 

No air duct? No Problem! The Builder decided to have the joist space pretend to be the air duct! Ah.. can you spell Code Violation?
'Maybe if I just cut this flooring out I can get enough return air flow!'
Ignored, and undersized structural details cause....
So what is the best way to make sure that you get the best deal possible? Let's let thirty-four years of experience in the building business make some practical suggestions on how to insure you get the most for your money.

  1. Build a Team. It's your home, it's your project, so you get to be the quarterback! Interview and hire integrity, character, experience, knowledge and a "can do" spirit as you define the various disciplines necessary to achieve your goal of building or remodeling your home. For sure you will need an Architect, Contractor, Interior Designer (unless you have fabulous taste!), and maybe even a Landscape Architect.
  2. Demand a Well Coordinated Plan. The best talent in the world, even with the most sterling of intentions won't efficiently design and complete your project without a well coordinated plan! Efficiency is the key - you will save a lot of money by reducing the "fumble factor!"
  3. Facilitate Strong Communications. Information is power and really good information, well communicated, is really powerful! Is there a mechanism in place for strong communication between the various disciplines?
  4. Challenge the Team to Value Engineer. This is where you will really save the money and get your BEST DEAL! Almost always there is a different way to achieve the same look or feel for less money. Experience, coordination, and strong communications among the team will put money back in your pocket!
  5. Express your Gratitude. Team members really respond to a leader who is grateful for their efforts! You catch a whole lot more flys with honey than you do with vinegar!
But there is one other incidental benefit to following the above prescription: YOU WILL REALLY HAVE A GOOD TIME DOING IT!

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