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Avoiding Disappointment In The Quoting Process

Avoiding Disappointment In The Quoting Process

We have a run of potential clients this year, that come to us with plans, ready to receive their quote and move on with the process of building their dream. These clients have typically spent $2,500-$5,000 on their new plans and are happy and excited about the opportunity in front of them.

Adam will meet the clients on site, plans, finishes, and the site are discussed, and he heads back to the office to prepare the quote for the client. This is delivered via email usually within the week. At this point, for many of our clients recently, this is where it begins to go wrong. The quote is right out of the ballpark figure they had in their mind, the plans they’ve had drawn reflect what they would love on site, but are right out of budget.


So how do we fix this? Unfortunately sometimes there is no fix, dreams are dreams, and some clients choose not to build in hope of being able to afford the whole dream at a later date, in many other cases, there is an opportunity for the client to work with Adam while he tries to find another way to do the job, to produce a similar outcome, at a lesser price.

This may be as simple, as the client painting for themselves, or could be as complicated as altering the plans to suit a less expensive alternative. Very often we find, if the builder was included in the design stage, there is no need for the disappointment that can come with a quote. In our experience, we have found that our clients are 100% happy with plans, and quoted price, when the builder and architect work together right from the beginning.

We find it saves the client money on many levels, from making practical decisions about what can be done within scope and budget, to not having to pay for altered plans.

The other alternative is to do your homework prior to contacting the architect, have a firm idea on what budget you have and what you are likely to get for the price you have in mind. This post has a calculator to help you find an idea on the price for the dream you have. Architects typically, are not able to accurately estimate a price, therefore when you have a budget to work with, unless you have an idea of what you should receive for your money, you could end up with plans that have no use right now. A little bit of time, or involving the builder right from the beginning, can save a whole lot of money and heartbreak.

Remember though, builders aren’t designers of architects either, as reflected in this post from The Plumbette, we all have our roll to play, and for the best outcome for you as the client, usually comes through us all working together.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have a tight budget to work with? How did you approach the situation?

I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

Nicole xxx

23 Comments 3196 Views

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  1. Ah, that old chestnut, when our eyes are bigger than our budgets! It’s good to know that involving the builder at the design stage can keep reality in check and disappointment at bay. I’ll keep this in mind for if and when we ever get around to our renovations!

    1. It is such a typical story, but creates such disappointment. xx

  2. Great idea to work with your builder at the actual design stage, we did that with the house we built 22 years ago and it definitely helps to get what you want as much as possible within your budget.

    1. Absolutely Janet, are you still in the same home?

  3. This advice is priceless… We have done extensions and the first time we got caught out… It’s ok to dream but sometimes you need to dream on a budget

    1. Well said Natalie xx

  4. I think that being 100% happy with the design and quote before heading in is just common sense for happiness right

    1. Yes, the difference I’m explaining, is that when you give the opportunity to your builder to work with the architect, the resulting plans drawn will already have the end budget in mind, rather than paying for plans of your dreams and then once the builder quotes, being disappointed because its out of budget and having to start again with the architect. But you’re totally right. x

  5. I woul love to build one day, so I found this really informative.
    I don’t feel like I’m the sort of person that needs all the bells and whistles, so hopefully I won’t be frustrated by cost when the time comes.

    1. That certainly helps Jess, it amazing how small items can really contribute to the overall cost. xx

  6. I think it is so important to work both with your builder and with your budget – especially a project as money intensive as a house. I guess working with a budget is good practice for all things – must remember that next time I plan a party ?

    1. He he he, me too Josefa xx

  7. I’ve written about this before on my blog about when people have champaign taste in a beer budget. It’s best to meet with the professionals to get an idea on what will or won’t cost a lot of dollars and go from there.

    1. You would see it often also Bec I am sure. It’s very hard to disappoint people, my least favourite part of my job xx

  8. We built our ‘dream house’ almost five years ago and our builder was involved right from the very start – he even came along to our appointments with the architect! This way there were no surprises when it came time to start talking quotes and our builder was also happy for my husband to source a lot of fittings through his work where he received a discount and saved us some more cash.

    1. I’m so pleased to hear this Lauren, that’s building done right by both you and your builder. Saving where you can is so important. xx

  9. Aaaah yes, I am massively risk averse and very cautious, so this tends to factor into my calculations for most things. I like to build in big buffers!!

    1. The perfect client! I am like you, and my goodness it prevents so much disappointment. xx

  10. I’m very lucky that my architect was my builder and my husband ?

    1. You have the perfect combination xx

  11. Hi Nicole

    I loved this post. I could not agree more. As an architect, I always work with my clients to keep the design on track with their budget, but as an architect, I’m working mainly from square meterage rates and experience with recent projects. So, I always involve a builder in the process too. I recommend to clients that it’s a great way to build a relationship with a builder, and to get the builder’s feedback as to whether any efficiencies can be adopted early on to make the project run more economically or smoothly.

    It breaks my heart when I see homeowners spend money on the design and documentation process, achieve all their approvals … and THEN get a quote. Because the ship has sailed then as to whether any savings can be easily incorporated.

    I prepare a written specification to go with the early design drawings. I find it’s sufficient to help builders understand the standard / quality of project that is desired, and we get estimates once the plans are bedded down (but not fully documented or approved).

    I also push back on the clients – and I find a lot of designers don’t do this. They suggest that it will be over budget and the client says they’ll wait until quoting to confirm that. I am much more of a policeman on it! I’m quite happy to tell the client they can’t afford it … because that honesty is appreciated much more than the dashed hopes and dreams when they can’t proceed with the build.

    Great post – looking forward to meeting you at Problogger,
    Amelia x

    1. Thank you Amelia, it’s wonderful to hear of successful collaborations, clients are so much happier with the result that way. Looking very much forward to meeting you also xxx

  12. I have found that building anything that is not standard is more expensive. With our current build (hopefully our forever home) we wanted to work around some existing trees on the site as well as including accessible housing principles in the build. The first draft from the architect was stunning, however when we showed it to a couple of builders they pointed out some expensive areas of the design, we were able to have the architect rework the basic plan before progressing too far.

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