Comparing quotes to choose the right trade partner

Sean Robinson / Buildertrend

Whether you’re looking for a roofer, electrician, plumber or even an architect, knowing how to compare trade partner quotes is an essential part of any project’s process. Sure, some of you may have been in this business long enough that you’ve got a pool of specialty contractors that you choose from when it comes to each job but if you’re newer to this industry, you might not be there quite yet. So, where to start? Find and get to know potential tradespeople on a professional level. Try viewing their previous work and checking out reviews from previous clients to get an idea of how they work. Once you’ve found some options that you like, you can ask a few of them to provide quotes for your project and begin comparing.

Being extremely clear and concise on the details of what you want done is the most important step in getting an accurate quote. Come up with a detailed breakdown (that includes the work that is expected and even a list of materials), then provide that same breakdown to each contractor that you want to compare. Misunderstandings – whether they are on price, timing, etc. – are never fun, so avoid any by having your expectations clearly laid out before any agreement is made or work begins. And remember, the more time you spend researching costs and materials on your own, the better you will be able to assess any trade partner quote that you receive to figure out if it’s right for you.

Once you’ve received your quotes, don’t just look at the price. Look at the overall breakdown … as we know, it’s all in the details. While cost is obviously important, it isn’t the only thing that matters in the grand scheme of things. When it comes to construction, good skills, experience and quality materials will come at a price so your expectations need to be realistic. Cheap prices from a potential trade partner might seem appealing at first but getting the finish you want is far more important. You always need to take into consideration the other important details, such as: how well you will work together, how much time and effort they are willing to put into the project, their company values, etc.

A quote that comes back much higher than the rest will no doubt surprise you, so instead of writing that contractor off right away, try asking why their quote is higher. Also, beware of quotes that come back extremely low, as they are (many times) too good to be true. Either way, it might be a warning sign if there isn’t a detailed breakdown of everything and no specifications. It’s also possible that all of the quotes you receive might be “too high.” But this might mean your budgeted pricing is too low. At that point, it might be necessary to speak to your designer or any other necessary parties to tweak your project details. In some cases too, you might be able to work closely with the contractor to work on the budget and drive down costs (possibly by using more affordable materials).

Once all the quotes are in and discussed, it’s time to make a decision. This all might seem like too much of a complicated process but once you form solid business relationships with various contractors, you can continue to use those and you can rest assured that you won’t have to go through this every time. Once you’ve made a decision, the basis of your agreement can start to form and be made formal once a contract has been made and signed by all necessary parties.

And if you’d like some tips for how to maintain solid relationships with your trade partners once you begin working together, check out this blog!

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