Getting the Bids

August 30, 2011

Each time we meet a new sub-contractor we learn something new.  They may ask a question we’ve not considered before or suggest something interesting.  So I carry my little project notebook around the house as we talk to various subs and take notes on the ideas that come up during the Q&A session along with jotting down follow-up action items.  This note taking part is really not much different than taking notes in an office meeting and doing the follow up.

Here’s an example:  Today the cabinet specialist asked me whether I liked the look of having moulding at the top of the cabinets.  My response was, “No, I want the cabinets to go up flush to the soffit in the kitchen,” because I liked the straight edged look I saw in the bungalow kitchen books.  The challenge, I’m learning, is that our house is old and the floor is uneven and the wall is not super straight too.  So to give the straight flushed look the installer of the cabinet would need to adjust the cabinet to the shape of the room by scribing, which requires more precision and attention to detail and translates to 1.5 days of additional labor.  If moulding is applied then the gap would be covered up by the decorative woodwork and it would take less time.  I nodded as I heard this making a mental note of, “OK, if we have to shave cost this may be one area to consider…”

Then we have similar Q&A sessions with the electrician, drywall specialist, flooring specialist, painter, etc.  Its quite exciting couple-few hours when the general contractor invites his sub-contractors to examine the house to put together a bid.  We’ve found that spending the time with the sub-contractors during these visits is important for two reasons.  First, we learn something.  They ask us questions or make suggestions on things we’ve not thought of before.  Second, it’s a bit like an interview where we have a chance to observe them and get a feel for their interpersonal skills as well as their knowledge.  So these visits are good for us as well as for the bidders.

Now that we’ve met the subs for all of the 3 general contractors who are bidding for our project we’re happy to say that we’ve been favorably impressed with them all.  Which leads to the problem of, “Gosh, whom do we pick?  They all seem good…” I suppose the numbers on the bid would help shape the decision somewhat but the problem of choosing one from 3 good general contractors is a fortunate problem to have.  Bids are due Wednesday, September 7th.