A self build house project diary
by Oliver Cannell

Builder’s Quotes - whistle while you wait

Who knew getting quotes from builders, in this economic climate, would be so difficult?!

With the nearly all industries taking a hit in this economic downturn, and with all the doom-and-gloom that seems to be surrounding the building trade at the moment, why have I struggled to get builders to give me quotes for this project?

Is it because the design is so unique and most of them don't really want to depart from anything standard? Or are the companies I've approached been so busy due to all of their competitors going under, that there is more than enough work to go around?

In all I have approached 6 different builders in the area - and only received 2 quotes - in over a year! To me, this seems shocking. I'm sure there are numerous factors involved here - the complexities of build; their comfort factor in building something like this; their current availability; or just plain bad service or willingness to produce quotes for new clients.

For example, one builder that I approached, seemed to have very good credentials and some excellent work on their portfolio (which I visited in person) and I was more than happy to let them take all the drawings and info to produce a quote. I was so confident they would be the right candidate and I even stopped looking around for other builders while I waited for their quote. About 6 months later, after some chasing, they declined to quote, stating they had enough of their own projects to work on (which would be more profitable) so wouldn't be able to fit mine into their schedule.

WTF?! It took 6 months to tell me this! A few weeks I wouldn't have minded but 6 months is crazy. Thanks a lot for waisting half a year guys!! As you can tell I was very pissed off. Moral: Don't wait for other people too long, otherwise nothing will get done.

Anyway, this turned out to quote a common thing - not the 6 month delay in getting a quote - but the fact that a lot of builders are so busy they don't need to consider all jobs that come in. I'm sure this is changing on a quarterly basis, as most people are considering extensions to their existing properties rather than going for a new build, but I consider myself lucky to have found a good builder that was able to give a good quote, in good time.

Thankfully both the quotes I received are very similar - although I wonder how much of it is 'quote' and how much is 'estimate', coz you never know what you might find once you start digging a hole in the ground.

So, I have made a choice and we are now moving forward with the project at last. Paperwork here we come!!

Next entry: More fence repairs. Thanks a lot local kids! (Wednesday 16th March 2011)

Previous entry: Final day of site clearance - felling the willow tree (Tuesday 16th March 2010)

Hi, Great Site!

Thinking about doing a self build my self in a few years! this blog is great as gives a real idea of what it would be like to do (unlike grand designs - not that well off !!)

would be good if you could mention costs involved too ?

Keep up the good work !

Jonathan  on  Thursday, 17th March 2011  at  11:34

Just been reading self-build blogs, as we’ve just started our own!

Know exactly how you feel about getting builders to tender.  We thought we’d have a queue and be able to haggle but it’s definitely not the case.

Good luck!

Catherine  on  Monday, 28th March 2011  at  11:09

Yes good idea about putting the self build costings on the site.
I’ll make a note to do this some time.

Oli  on  Tuesday, 29th March 2011  at  17:21


Just completed our self build and at the start had simialar problems finding contractors and getting quotes, in the end we did it all ourselves. See my blog at the ‘The Real Self Build Blog’ URL http://therealselfbuildblog.blogspot.com
I would be willing to answer any questions if it helps.

stutheselfbuilder  on  Friday, 1st April 2011  at  22:03

My friend was planning to build a house that is so eco-friendly that its going to pay him around £1000 a year just for living in it.

The seven-bedroom house will combine several features to make the property as energy efficient as possible, including a wind turbine and a heating system using pipes in the garden. Its predicted to generate more electricity than is needed and any excess will go back into the National Grid.

Unfortunately due to circumstances he has to put his plans back on the shelf and sell the lovely land he bought :( so if any of you know someone who wants to buy a land in Leicester just email me.

Sarah  on  Tuesday, 10th May 2011  at  18:49

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