Budgeting is always a huge part of any renovation. Whether you’ve got a ton of building work planned or just need a few improvements carried out, it’s always important to save money where you can and a big part of that is knowing how to negotiate with your builder.
This doesn’t mean trying to get the lowest possible price, it means getting the best and fair price for the job.
We always try to do as much DIY as possible but inevitably there a few projects that are best left to the professionals.
Things like electrical work and anything to do with gas are jobs that should always be done by professionals with experience. For your safety as well as your home insurance which you could invalidate if you don’t have the necessary certificates required for some jobs like installing fireplaces and log burners!
But exactly how do you negotiate the best price with your builder?
There are a few things you can do to help you get precisely what you want at a good and fair price. Doing your research is a really important part of the negotiating process and knowing exactly what you want and knowing what to expect will be helpful when negotiating with your builder.
This doesn’t mean just paying less, though!
You can negotate pretty much everything including timeframes, better quality supplies, additional work and a discount for multiple projects, etc. There are endless possibilities, so don’t just be focussed on paying as little as possible.
Here are our top 5 tips on negotiating the right way with a builder to get the best result possible:
1. Plan Everything
Know and plan exactly. If you don’t know what you want how is your builder going to know what to do?! Having as much detail as possible will help ensure that you get an accurate quote.
You should always get multiple quotes for the exact same job and being precise with your wishes will make it possible for you to compare the quotes. Build upon what you learn from every quote and refine exactly what you want before getting another quote.
2. Do Your Research
The more you know, the easier it will be to get an accurate quote and negotiate with your builder. What’s involved in the work (so that people can’t pull the wool over your eyes)? How long do you think it will take (it’ll almost always be longer than you expect)? How complicated is your project going to be and do you need specialised companies to carry out the work?
When it comes to choosing a builder you should always get recommendations from friends, family and neighbours. Make sure they’re qualified for the job and have all necessary insurances!
Get references! Don’t trust them showing photos of the work they’ve done. I’ve seen pictures of some of our projects on random websites throughout the world where people are advertising with our pictures of the work that “they” did! And before you ask, no we’ve not branched out into mounting floating TVs, sanding other peoples floors and our apartment hasn’t suddenly miraculously transported to 3 different continents simultaneously.
3. Be fair
Be realistic. If you want high-quality work you will have to pay for it. There’s just no getting around it. To get the best possible results, both you and your builder have to be happy!
You’ll probably be surprised at how much building supplies can cost, how long everything takes and how much skill is involved in the work that needs doing. If you have a highly skilled builder that’s been perfecting their work over lots of years you have to be willing to pay for the experience, quality and skill.
4. Haggle with your builder
So what if your builders’ quote is too high and how do you reduce it? This is where you get down to business!
Can you haggle with your builder?
The short answer is – you can definitely try! Many builders expect some kind of negotiation on price and often there is a small contingency planned into their quotes although this isn’t always the case.
You don’t want to push the price too much though – any work should be paid for fairly and you’ll probably only find that you get hit with additional costs further down the line because your builder ends up charging you for every little thing extra (that may have otherwise been included) or worst-case cuts corners that leave you with something you’re not happy with and could cost you more to repair in the long run.
How should I negotiate with a tradesperson?
The best method to negotiate will depend on the type of work you’re having carried out, too. Is it a large project, is it complicated and requires specialist equipment and tradesmen, or is it straightforward and easy for your builder to do?
Negotiating is always about being flexible on both parts so don’t just expect your builder to knock a load of money off the quote without anything in return!
Maybe your builder has ideas that could help you reduce the cost of the work by making slight amendments? Often builders work with specific suppliers and can get better deals with companies they always work with – could you change something about your plans to include a different product for a better deal?
It’s often easier to negotiate some additional ‘bonus’ work that your builder will include as an extra to the main work. If you’re having an extension built you could maybe get an additional room plastered or if you’re having a bathroom fitted maybe you could get a leaky sink fixed in your utility room?
How can I keep the cost of building work down?
Are there bits of work you can do yourself to keep the cost down? This is something we do as much as possible and we’ve saved thousands in the process!
We prepared the opening for our woodburning stove, knocked down our garden wall and cleaned all bricks before having it rebuilt, prepared ceilings for plastering and removed a garage roof before it was recovered (although we ended up installing the whole new garage roof ourselves, too!).
Can you negotiate a couple of per cent off your bill if you agree to pay your builder within a couple of days of receiving it? Cashflow is always a huge issue for small businesses so agreeing to pay promptly can help you save a bit of money and make your builder happy, too!
5. Don’t Forget Contracts
What exactly does the quote include? Does it include the exact products you specified? What about unforeseen things? Is VAT included? What kind of insurance does your builder have and does it cover everything he’s doing? Agree for any changes or possible additional costs to be discussed before they occur so you don’t have any nasty surprises when you get the bill.
You probably don’t want your builder to go over budget, so it’s important to get all facts and figures agreed on before any contracts are signed and any building work starts. The price you’re paying for the work is important, but you also need to know everything else is in order and will be taken care of, too!
Have you ever successfully negotiated with a builder? How do you keep costs down when renovating your home? We’d love to hear about your experiences, so leave us a comment below and let us know!