Obtaining Quotations For Alterations and Building Works

You’ve decided to alter and extend your family home.
You’ve employed an Architect and had plans drawn. The weeks have passed while planning permission is negotiated and has been obtained; you have received copies of your working drawings and also have your building regulations approval.
Finally you are ready to build, all the uncertainty and paperwork is out of the way and we can get on with Simple Floor Plans the build…right?…. Wrong. The next stumbling block….obtaining quotations for the work!
Although this process can be both time consuming and frustrating by going into this process armed with a little knowledge can help you receive accurate, competitive quotations saving both you and you chosen contractors valuable time.
1. Always request quotations by letter detailing the plan drawing numbers and revision details that are listed on the drawings from your Architect.
This will ensure that you have a record of the information that has been provided to the contractors and should eliminate the confusion of what is or is not included. In your attached letter state that you wish for all works on the plans to be included. You can also include additional items in your letter which may not be detailed on the plans, decorating, external works, etc.
2.    Give the contractor two weeks to return the quotation.
If no quotation is received by the deadline, remove from your shortlist. Do not continually chase the contractor for a price. If they are not interested enough to adhere to your requests (2 weeks being enough time for any contractor) or too busy when attempting to win the contract do not assume that this will alter if they win the contract.
3.    Advise the contractor of Subcontractor Taxes Calculator PC sums for kitchens and sanitary fittings.
PC sum stands for provisional cost sum. It is an amount a contractor is requested to allow for an item which allows you some flexibility of choice with the works but more importantly ensures that quotations are comparable, something which can often be missed. Tell all contractors to allow a sum of say £5,000 for kitchen supply and £2,000 for sanitary fitting supply. This means that you can compare the quotations on a like for like basis. You may miss the best price available as 1 contractor may have allocated £10,000 for a kitchen, giving distorted comparisons.
4.    Best price versus cheapest price.
In the paragraph above you will notice the phrase best price. This means best value, which doesn’t always mean cheapest price. If on receipt of 3 quotations, one is substantially lower than the others (as in more than 20% less) obtain an additional quote as a point of reference. 
A cheap price which is too low can result in contractors leaving sites unfinished as they cannot afford to complete the works or extras being charged on the project which bump the price to above the amounts quoted by one of the original, realistic quotations.
While it can be frustrating not receiving quotations from contractors once you have spent time discussing the plans and showing them your property, resist the temptation to shortcut the above steps in an attempt to gain quick estimates following time wasted. 
These steps not only ensure accurate quotations they will also give you references documents should you need to refer to any agreements that have been made.
One final point is that when you receive written confirmation of prices, they should be worded as quotations and not estimates. This may sound petty however; a quotation is a fixed price where an estimate can be subject to change.
Happy negotiating!