September 24, 2010
Bids Come In!
We actually gave out bids 4 weeks ago and are getting numbers back now.
(Go back to August for a refresher on who the contractors are!)
The bids come in and they are true to experience. Contractor D is the highest – by a lot. (This is a big, established Fairfield County builder of high end homes) Contractor D’s bid comes in just under $1Million. They are immediately crossed off the list. Contractor C comes in at about $515,000. Contractors A and B (the 2 favored, green contractors) come in somewhere in the middle. Contractor A – the young husband and wife team come in at about $560,000. Contractor B- the brothers- come in at about $610,000. Contractor B also expresses some negativity at some of the details for insulating the basement and the shape of the house.
The basement is hard. It is a rock wall foundation. We are doing as much as we possibly can and I have a lot of experience with these basements and I have also consulted many experts – I can’t see a better way to approach the basement. I discuss this with Contractor B and tell him I am happy to make it work in whatever way we can and that he should let me know how he would do it better. He grumbles a bit and concedes but the overall vibe is that Contractor B is not that into doing this job. They also lean more toward energy efficiency and do not inspire a ton of confidence regarding health issues. This bothers the client a bit. Because of these things and because the bid is about $50,000 higher than Contractor A- they are crossed off the list.
So it is down to Contractor A- the original favorite and Contractor C. Contractor C is also a very large company. They do a lot of commercial work but also have done some nice residential. They seem very straightforward, fast and down and dirty. They don’t know much about green building but they know some and they swear they will do whatever the clients want in that regard- they don’t care- whatever the client wants is what they will get. And we all kind of believe them. Their vibe is very ‘get it done’. They have a huge team and between the commercial and the residential they keep everyone working which is how they seem to keep prices low. They inspire a lot of confidence. None of us can believe it but they are seriously in the running.
We have a few more interviews and the more we meet and the more the clients think about it, the more they want to do the right thing. Contractor A has very strong values regarding sustainability and house health and really brings to the table the same level of intentionality that the clients and we, the architects, do. We all agree that Contractor A would sort of complete the team and we would all be on the same page in our efforts to build a healthy house with a low carbon footprint for the reasons of helping the earth and raising awareness about pollutants and waste and fossil fuel consumption. We all know intuitively that Contractor A is the right match even if they do cost about $45,000 more than the lowest bidder. Plus it is rarely a good idea to take the lowest bidder. The likely hood of change orders will be quite high.
So Contractor A is given the contract! Everyone is happy and excited to start! The choice feels exactly right.
Contractor A has not built a LEED home before but has done many very efficient homes and is excited to build a LEED home.