“The $50 Crab Leg Lesson: Avoiding Overpayment in Construction”
During a family vacation to Bergen, Norway, many years ago, while searching for a place to enjoy lunch, we stumbled upon an outdoor marketplace teeming with vendors showcasing and preparing delectable dishes from around the world. Norway isn’t known for its affordability, but with some careful budgeting, you can keep your expenses in check. However, on that memorable day – one etched into our family lore – I encountered a stall displaying an array of fresh seafood on ice. What truly caught my attention were the colossal king crab legs, the largest I had ever laid eyes on. They were magnificent, and I simply had to try one.
Fast forward to the end of our dining experience, which turned out to be disappointingly underwhelming, including my pricey crab leg. It was then that I was taken aback to realize that my choice had cost me a whopping $50! I attempted to voice my dissatisfaction to the vendor to no avail and reluctantly parted with my money.
Always inquire about the price or be prepared to pay the price.
This scenario parallels the world of construction, much like my encounter with the king crab legs in Bergen, Norway. Instead of selecting a single crustacean’s appendage, you are choosing and paying for 25% of all the creatures in the sea, or so it can sometimes feel. The key takeaway? You must be aware of the cost. While time and quality also matter, cost invariably takes precedence.
Breaking down the cost of a roof repair may not be necessary if you have three quotes that are all within a reasonable range. However, constructing a 4000-square-foot custom house demands a thorough examination. It entails delving into dozens of pages of specifications and scrutinizing line after line of budget items. You might think that the bottom line is all that counts, but remember, the bottom line is the cumulative total of all the line items. If you are willing to invest the time to understand at least the fundamentals of each element, you stand a better chance of completing your project with greater satisfaction than I did on that summer day in the Bergen marketplace.
Keys to a Successful Project:
- Familiarize yourself with the hourly rates of skilled and unskilled labor in your local market. You can easily achieve this by asking your contractor or the firm you are considering.
- Understand the cost ranges per square foot (SF) for the following items: framing, roofing, siding, flooring, drywall, insulation, and paint.
- Be aware of the markup your builder or contractor is applying for overhead and profit margin.
By dedicating the time and effort to these tasks, you significantly enhance your chances of avoiding overpayment on your upcoming project.