Builder quote - advice appreciated.

Discussion in 'DIY' started by jim30, Jan 22, 2012.

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  1. Myself and Mrs Jim are getting some builders in to do some minor DIY involving moving a loft hatch, and some general boxing in in the house. We've had three quotes, one we've discounted due to not being happy with the builder. The other two, one is quoting £240 plus materials (plus VAT?) for some vaguely defined quote, while the last gave the most detailed quote at £550 plus VAT including materials.

    We went back to the last, who was our prefered choice anyway to get some clarity on how he reached the figure - he sent an email back saying they charged competitive prices, but then four hours later we got another email saying he'd do it for £430 plus VAT (£516). This is a fairly hefty price reduction, which we're not sure whether we're comfortable with or not. If the guy can knock 20% off the price without being prompted, then was he ripping us off with the original price, or is he making savings elsewhere (e.g. using the materials spare from another job?).

    Any comments would be appreciated - the guy gets good reviews, but we're just uncomfortable at such a large reduction being applied without any negotiation at all - it doesnt feel quite right!
  2. Possibly he realized, on reflection, that he'd overcharged you. The fact that other quotes were less bears this out.
    Having said that if the quote was detailed presumably you can tell what aspect of the bill it was that he reduced.

    BTW If you get the Poles in don't expect much graft out of them after 14.00hrs on a Friday. Wodka time.
  3. Start again. If you don't feel comfortable with them, then you have your answer.
  4. May be like so many since ***** like Blair screwed up our economy, he's desperate to get some work in....

    If he's VAT reg, at least he's still trying to do it the right way.
  5. He interpreted your request for clarity as not being happy with the price. To me, a detailed quote is a good sign, as it requires a degree of effort on the part of the contractor. What impression does he make on you face-to-face? Gut feeling can be worth a lot.
  6. What was your reply to him. Did you state that 3 were in the running? If so a reduction is a normal way to secure the work, if he s that desperate. Tradesmen often pre-calculate "top-end" so they have some play to beat the competition.

    Using materials spare from another job is not a reason to doubt his quote, he has after all paid for this material, whether or not he charged his first customer for it, you will never know, but as long as it is new/serviceable, does it matter? (I d personally do the same at a reduced rate) You need the material anyway.

    Just make sure he only gets paid for actual work done/materials delivered, only when you are both happy with it. Its not a huge summe thats gonna screw you or him, but pay him daily. He may (quite rightly) have a clause in his quote to the effect of "any unforeseen complications will be charged at blah blah per hour", so make sure you are informed of any further works by him before he carries out such.

    Edit: and make sure he does nt make the loft-hatch out of 6mm ply! I m not up on UK regs, but if your ceiling is insulated, the loft-hatch should also be insulated in itself, and around the gap between rafters/hatch.
  7. Builders will always be able to buy materials far cheaper than the public. To appear competitive a builder will charge a good looking price for labour and make the difference up on the materials. Fitted kitchens are a prime example of this, firms make a fortune on the units, I had a friend fit a kitchen for £2000, which would have cost me £10,000 otherwise.

    The builder might also be providing his labour for free, some will do this on initial jobs that don't take much time in the hope they will be given more work.

    Also, he may have initial quoted you for materials then found he has sufficient laying around from finished jobs.

    Alternatively he could be cooking his books.

    From your posts I don't get the feeling you're getting ripped of, he's just trying to make a decent living and trying to match his prices appropriately to everyone else. If he comes along, does a good job and your happy with it you'll wonder what all your fretting was about.

    This is, however, only a small job. If you ever get anything bigger done that costs thousands there are lots of ways to help protect yourself, which these idiots on the likes of cowboy builders don't follow.
  8. Best way to get a builder to knock 20% off his bottom line is offer him cash. :) - VAT is so over rated,.
  9. Thanks for all the steers - they're all very helpful. I think the concern is more from my mrs, who while she's wonderful, can err on the overcautious side at times. The guy in general seemed good, prompt email replies, good comms and a sense of clearly defined professionalism. I think we'll go with him, but wanted to get a feel for whether we were being taken for a ride, and it looks like we're not.

    Cheers all!
  10. Jim, ask for references and see if you can see the finished product.
  11. Have you got any friends or colleagues that have a builder they use?? Recommendations are generally the best way to go. Sites such as check-a-trade / rated people aren't worth the paper they are written on, so take any advice on there with a pinch of salt. As mentioned above ask to see old work or to speak to old customers. Get their feedback and get your wife to speak to the lady of the house as women are more likely to see remeber the bad stuff.

    Another thing to bear in mind is that most builders want to earn at least £150 a day. So consider how long that it will take to carry the work out. Who ever you decide to go with don't pay them a penny until they are finished and both you and the misses are happy. Trying to get a builder back after you've paid them is near impossible.