Free Estimates vs Fee for Services… would you like to pay now or later???

By July 20, 2016 Uncategorized No Comments
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We, Credence Construction, are a Class A General Contractor in the state of Florida (CGC# 1522134) and we participate in both residential and commercial construction.  We have managed projects that have gone so well it felt like luck played a leading role on our project management team and then some projects it felt like luck called in sick.  We analyze both our successful and less successful projects with the same level of curiosity.  What actions, decisions, information, project stakeholders, etc were factors in the results?  We attempt to focus on the behaviors that lead to success rather than focus on the negatives.

One of the most important factors that has been identified as an indicator that the project will come in on time and on budget is the quality of the estimating.  This indicator points back to the opening line of this article.  If you are a consumer and you have a construction need then we cannot overstate the importance of paying the upfront cost for detailed construction drawings, a defined scope of work, detailed finish schedules, and material specifications.  The cost of that level of detail may seem high and it may seem unnecessary to get to that level of specificity.  The desire to save that money and put it to better use somewhere else is understandable.  However, we can assure you that the money you “save” will be lost with the first change order that you receive from your contractor.

If a contractor provides you with an estimate without any of the following items then please hit the pause button on your project:

  • Construction Drawings – If this is new construction and the plans are incomplete then you are asking for change orders, delays, and unnecessary stress. If your project is a renovation then you may not need a complete set of construction drawings but you will need a sketch to confirm area.  This allows the contractor to obtain material take-offs, confirm installation patterns through illustration and timelines.  or;
  • Defined Scope of Work – If the Architect or Owner has not provided a detailed Scope of Work in the request for proposal (RFP) then it is in the hands of the contractor to either use allowances in the estimate or return with an incomplete estimate and a detailed request for information. or;
  • Finish Schedule – If the Architect, Owner, nor the contractor has provided a detailed list calling out each finish material, door, trim, floor covering, door hardware, plumbing fixtures, even down to the paint manufacturer then the contractor should respond with an RFI but more than likely they will use an allowance.

We value our client’s time and we know the value of our time which is why we refuse to provide “free” estimates.  It is because we value our time enough that we track the quantity of man hours spent in an effort to develop an accurate construction estimate.  Unless you have a complete set of construction drawings with thorough details, a defined scope of work, and finish schedules that include the manufacturer’s product number then we can assure you that you cannot rely on the “free” estimate for anything other than being a waste of time.  This is why we ask our prospective clients to sign a Consulting Agreement and pay a fee that, once we are awarded the contract, the fee is deducted from the construction value and is a credit in the construction contract.

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