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Managing Client Cost Expectations

When a homeowner comes to you and they want a new home or a renovation to their existing home… it’s a big deal for them. I think sometimes when we already work in the trades we do get somewhat desensitized in regards to the dollars and cents of a project because we see so many, but for that homeowner….. you are literally talking about the roof over their heads. It’s a big deal.

So we have to be a bit gentle and we definitely have to be respectful, because not only is the project itself the roof over their heads, but the money to pay for it are hard earned dollars that have been saved up over time or loaned via a bank. We all know how stressful that process can be!

How best to manage the conversation about cost does depend somewhat on at what stage the homeowner is at. I’ll walk through some of the examples…

Initial Concept Drawings

If the homeowner is in the process of still tossing around ideas and has some preliminary drawings to play with, then they may call you to talk about feasibility and cost. Its natural and certainly recommended that a builder is engaged at this point, as you guys can work your magic and point out any clear flaws in the design that lack in practicality. I have to say however, be VERY careful when the conversation arises around cost at this early stage. So often a homeowner will hang on to whatever number you give them with a vice grip…. Which means getting it wrong can have dire effects later on down the track. My suggestion to carefully manage this, is to take down lots of notes around the conversation that you have and promise to get back to them with some approximate costs. Don’t feel backed into a corner to give them a round number right there and then. It won’t do either of you any favours. When you do provide them with a figure, make sure you do it in written form, advise it is preliminary costings only and that these calculations will need to be redone when consented plans are available. Reference all of your notes on the discussions had and advise on all assumptions that you have made. Despite the fact it is a preliminary budget, you should be as careful as you would be with a fixed price in writing up your tags and clarifications. When in doubt, get us to have a look at it.

Consented Plans

Often this is where you get the age old ‘so how much a square metre to you reckon?’ conversation.

If you have read my other blogs, you already know why m2 rates are dangerous to guess at.

What you want to do here is guide the conversation into an opportunity for you to provide a fixed price quote. Tell your client it is in their best interests to have the job considered fully when pricing, as guesses can hurt both them and you if guessed incorrectly.

Detailed pricing might be something you do, or you ask the likes of us to do for you, but make sure your client is aware of the investment made either way by you to complete this process.

Quoting building works takes a huge amount of time, its not the same as asking for a quote for new curtains or carpets, it is an entire build.

Remind your client how much time, energy and money goes into doing it well for them so that they value it. That is always going to mean they appreciate it more and your efforts might even win you the job irrelevant of the price!

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