Advice on getting builders to even quote for a job

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by DaveHerts, Sep 2, 2021.

  1. DaveHerts

    DaveHerts Member

    So, we have planning and building regs approval for a 36 SqM single storey extension plus separate 56 SqM garage but have been trying to find a builder for months. Looking for builders to give advice on how to make this as easy as possible to quote for.

    We originally went out to 8 builders, 5 said they wanted to quote, after 5 months we had only received one quote. No matter how much you chase there seems to be a complete lack of interest.

    I get that materials are near impossible to get and all builders are busy but I am looking for advice on how to make this happen.

    We even gave them free reign to tell us when they could start but there just seems to be a consistent theme of builders saying they want to quote and then doing nothing.

    We are on the coast in Suffolk.
  2. Offshore

    Offshore Active Member

    I'm not a builder but have had quite a bit of building work done in the last year. Everyone we have employed has told us the same story about material shortages and how difficult it makes quotations - they could give a price on the day but may find the material price has increased when they actually come to start the work and buy the materials a few months down the line. Your extension and garage sounds like a fairly big job - I would guess you will be into six figures for that amount of work (just based on my own experience of prices), I suppose that could make material variations even more of an issue.
    Again, all just based on my own experience as a customer, not a builder.
    Kitfit likes this.
  3. DaveHerts

    DaveHerts Member

    Yep, fully expecting it to be six figures. I guess I am wondering if it would be better for builders to quote for the labour and basically say "the materials cost what they cost at the time" I would sign up for that
  4. stevie22

    stevie22 Screwfix Select

    Do the builders you have spoken to know they are 1 of 8?

    There's a lot of work in putting a tender together so you want to know you have a fair shot at winning if you are going to do it .

    1 in 8 odds aren't great.
    chillimonster likes this.
  5. Kitfit

    Kitfit New Member

    I'm a joiner who undertakes relatively small works and i've had problems when setting quotes valid for only 30 days.
    Material price rises have been horrendous in some areas .
    I wouldn't like to imagine quoting for such large works when your material prices could rocket in the meantime.
  6. Wayners

    Wayners Screwfix Select

    Lookout for builders working near by and stop and chat. Make an introduction and get phone number. Builders do know other builders and if you ask loads they may think it's a waste of time putting in quote so you need to say hi to one local and ask the important questions

    Would you quote.
    How long is waiting list ect
    The lack of trades around is a big problem and going to get worse I fear.
  7. Mr Rusty

    Mr Rusty Screwfix Select

    There are builders and builders. This is a substantial job, so are you going to the right people? For a £100K+ job you really need to be thinking about someone turning over at least £0.5M a year, better more. Otherwise the job becomes too big to handle easily because the cash flow either means leaning on the customer heavily up front or having enough credit/cash in hand to fund the cash flow of the build, so approaching one-man-band "builders" is probably a waste of time.

    Personally, I would consider offering a small fee for the quote so people know they are not wasting their time - as you are finding, making time to do a complex quote is something many tradespeople don't have at the moment because they are busy!. It's worth £100 to get a detailed and scheduled offer. Make sure you have a tight specification, and ask the right questions - you need to know if the builder is interested in taking on a £100Kish job with a 3/4/5 month contractual completion (or whatever). Set the ground rules, make it worth their while, and go for quality over just price and it's more likely to end well. This level of work at the very least needs a good specification and agreed terms/contract - not too heavy or you scare people away.

    You need to be absolutely clear who has design responsibility - are you employing separate designers and the builder is building to your specification? or is it "design and build"?
    Offshore likes this.
  8. Offshore

    Offshore Active Member

    Excellent advice above. One of the builders who quoted us offered two levels of quotation - the standard estimate (free) and a very detailed estimate down to the last nut and bolt (cost £75 but refundable on acceptance of the quote). Another important factor that we became aware of, as the client, is agreeing a sensible payment schedule. We originally expected a deposit and full payment on completion but this was not how our builder worked, nor was it realistic in hindsight. Our project cost about £40k and was broken down into stages - groundworks, kit erection, roofing, internal fit out etc. All sensibly scheduled and invoiced as each stage was completed. This provided the builder with the necessary cash flow to finance the next stage and gave us a far better understanding of where the money was going. As you alluded to in your earlier post, make the builder aware of your willingness to be flexible in meeting the costs and schedule. I think a lot of contractors just want to know they are not quoting on a whim and the fact that you have planning etc in place should show you are serious about it.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
  9. DaveHerts

    DaveHerts Member

    All brilliant advice, thankyou. So I have an architect who has designed and taken through planning approval and building regs approval so they should be building to our spec. We have a pretty tight spec which outlines the works and areas they are not expected to do (I am building my own kitchen).

    Tried speakig to a few builders in the area but all I ever seem to get hold of is sob contractors on site and they have no idea when "the boss" will be along but worth another try.

    Interesting idea of offering a small £ for the quote, hadn't thought of that. And I will take the advice and cutdown the number of builders we go out to. We only increased the number becuase we were not getting responses so we thought it was simply a numbers game.

    Due to the fluctuations in materials at the mo, are builders not intersted in doing a quote for labour and the materials are what they are so the risk is with the client? I thought this may de risk it for them in current times?
  10. Mr Rusty

    Mr Rusty Screwfix Select

    The risk is where the contract says it is. You, as the client, could take the materials risk or you could ask for a fixed price contract and expect the builder to price in the risk - in which case the quote will be higher. Either way if you make it clear from the beginning everyone knows where they stand.

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