During a coffee meeting with another a neighbor, a mutual friend stopped by at Pete’s Coffee in Los Gatos. She was meeting with her contractor in 10 minutes to sign an agreement to re-build their home which was damaged during a house fire.
It was clear that she was totally unprepared and was only selecting the contractor based on price. The incident reminded me to list the Top 5 tips to negotiate a great contract with your home builder:
- Price: Don’t select your contractor solely on price. The valley is full of contractors who bid low just to get the contract and ask for additional payments when time comes to purchase and install of finish items. Unless you have the option to pre-select your all your finished items such as Appliances, Counter-Top and fixtures you will be in trouble since the low bid will only cover the cheapest material that might not meet your style and taste.
- Experience: Find the contractor who has built homes in your city and is familiar with the code enforcement requirements. It would be ideal if the home builder you select has worked with your architect, so if the planning department calls for change, your builder can easily accommodate these changes
- Homework: It’s essential you pre-select all your finished items and get your contractor to include those items in his final bid. Finished items include appliances, tile, flooring material, bath & lighting fixtures. These items alone could double the cost of your project depending on type of material you select.
- Terms: Make sure your contractor understands and can deliver on your expectations on when you need the project to be completed. Some contractors are notorious about using funds from one project to finish the other one. So, your builder might not be able to finish your home before he gets another client if he’s under-bid to win your project.
- Transparency: Require your home builder to break-down your costs to two main sections for Rough and Finish material including labor and time for each section. In each section should include line items for Rough Framing, Rough Electrical, Rough Plumbing, Rough Roofing….etc. This will make it much easier to spot if you are being over-charged.
Using these tips we were able to negotiate a 40% reduction in one Los Gatos fixer upper which included a small kitchen and bath remodel you realized how high was a rough framing cost of a small house which was only going to take 3 days. Using the total cost of that line item it will be easy to calculate if your home builder is charging you $2,000 per day for rough framing.
Good luck with your home remodel and feel free to share other cost saving ideas that have worked for you.