This should be shocking, but everyone thinks it’s normal:
Practically everyone who engages a builder in Australia opts for the cheapest quote.
When we first went into the pool construction business, in the early 1980s, we kept running up against this very problem. We would prepare a quote to do a good job, using high quality materials and leaving ourselves enough to live on (Or there’s no point in doing the work, right?) and we would miss out on the job.
After a while we realised that we were being beaten out by seasoned operators who either:
1) Cut quality and standards and corners and delivered an inferior product (Which is common) OR
2) Made their quote deliberately vague and left out a lot of items they later added in as Variations.
We couldn’t see ourselves stooping to do either of those things. Instead, we knuckled down to the task of finding ways to work more efficiently. Fortunately, I had a background in computer programming, so I began working out ways to automate a lot of our business processes. We became very organised in our job process and job management systems. Along the way we came to understand what others were doing with ten people we were managing to do with three or four.
So, here are the ways to ensure you engage the right pool builder:
Find a builder who is calm and focused about how they’re going to perform your job. A good builder of anything will have a clear plan and will approach each step of their plan with a methodical approach they are not making stuff up on the fly and hoping they can “fudge” it later to get themselves out of trouble.
Check that they are prepared to thrash out all of the details of what is included right at the beginning. Too many clients are in a rush to get their job started because they are already behind schedule. We are not prepared to join you in rushing to decisions we both regret later.
Ask them for a portfolio of their previous work and, if possible, take a little time to look at the quality of work they have done in the past. A good builder will come with a history of good work and satisfied clients. They will be proud to point you towards past clients who will offer a testimonial of how their job went. In our case, we do a lot of work for clients like the state and federal governments and are asked to tender for their jobs because of the past standard of work we have performed.
Ask them to honestly explain whether they have had to perform work that is in variation to the original contract. The answer will likely be yes, because underlying conditions or client needs change along the way. However, they should be something that was unforeseen at the time of contracting; not because the builder left items out of the contract to “ice the price” down to get to the cheapest quote. It shouldn’t be that hard.
Have a proper discussion with them as to why their quoted price varies from that of some of their competitors. If it’s because they have specified a particular product or material then ask them to justify their decision. If they are willing to explain their reasoning to you in clear, rational terms then be prepared to listen. This may be your fifth pool construction job and their fiftieth.
Remember, you and your clients get to own the pool. The builder only has to warrant their work to the minimum legislated period. What are you buying and how will it age?
What do I do next?
If you would like to discuss any aspect of your proposed job with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and ask us our view. If you would like us to quote on your job, be aware we may not be the cheapest quote (Though we often find we are.) but we will be the most considered in our approach.