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Siren Song

I should listen to my gut…

After 16 years in the business, I should know better.  I think the siren song of a new prospect ready to start a project made me ignore my instincts to not rush an estimate.  My motives were good: provide a potential client with an estimate for their home, get it done in a timely manner and try to be as realistic as possible with the numbers.  Unfortunately, the result was a bloated estimate that made me look silly.

This does bring up another aspect of my industry that drives me crazy.  When handed an incomplete set of drawings by a client asking for a competitive bid, there are two directions one can go.  Price EXACTLY what is shown on the drawings or price it knowing there is missing information and try to fill in the blanks.  Pricing only what is shown will result in a “low” bid, but it also forces change orders once the job is under way.  In a fixed price world, this leaves the client vulnerable to the contractor’s “black box” pricing.  What once was a low winning bid suddenly has snowballed into a budget blowing nightmare. 

On the other hand, my thorough estimate may result in a higher bid that becomes paper shredder fodder.  As a professional, I want my client to have realistic expectations from the onset and in the long run, the homeowner wins.

So when using incomplete drawings and specifications, beware of your own siren song enticing you to select the lowest bidder...