Comparing building quotes


How to understand and compare building quotes in New Zealand

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When it comes to building quotes, how do you know you’re comparing apples with apples?

We understand most people look around before deciding on a builder for their project. Before you make a decision:

  1. Make sure your builder is well established, with experience in the kind of work you need.
  2. Check if they belong to a trade association. Builders must go through an application process to be accepted as a member. This includes peer review and a number of reference checks. It may also give you a dispute resolution process if any problems arise, or extra warranties if the work isn’t done properly.
  3. Look at their work and ask for references from previous clients.


The more information your builder has, the more accurately they can quote. They’ll need copies of the detailed drawings and specifications, as well as information about the building site and where the home will be located. As a matter of courtesy, let companies know if you’re getting quotes from several builders.


While price is an important consideration, it can be difficult to understand and compare quotes to ensure you’re getting good value for money.



Is the quote fixed or cost plus?

Depending on the type of building project, some companies offer fixed prices. This means they have looked at your plans and specifications and have discussed your desired finishes so they can accurately cost out your project based on confirmed details. Even so, there may be some provisional sums and prime cost sums allowed if there are areas where there's still a bit of guesswork involved. This could be the case with earthworks or where the final finishing details are yet to be decided on.

If your quote isn’t fixed, make sure to talk to the builder about how cost-plus contracts are managed and how additional costs are calculated and approved by you.


Does the quote include provisional costs and prime cost sums?

Builders include provisional costs if they can’t accurately price part of your plans. Instead, they’ll estimate a cost based on the information they have, or if they anticipate an issue based on their experience. If you can give the builder detailed information such as electrical and plumbing plans and specific fixtures and fittings, your quote will include fewer provisional costs. However, it’s important to note that unforeseen issues frequently come up in building projects, particularly during a renovation. The age and condition of your home play a part in this, and it’s wise to have a contingency fund set aside.

Look carefully at what’s included

When comparing quotes, make sure each one is comprehensive and competitive. Do they cover the same scope of work, materials and quality of fixtures? You should also check to see what’s not included – if you’re unsure ask questions. While there will always be some variations, reputable builders shouldn’t be vastly different when assessing the cost of your build. If one quote is significantly cheaper or more expensive, you should look at it carefully to see why.

Trust Qualitas Builders

Qualitas Builders provide a full contract project manage and build service and use only trusted industry professionals. From the initial groundworks and laying of your foundations, through to hardware installation and the final finishing touches, we pride ourselves on producing superior homes with minimal stress for our clients. We use our experience and expertise to give you a realistic cost, rather than a cheaper price with hidden surprises and budget blowouts. If you have questions, or want to know why there are differences between quotes you’ve received, we’re happy to look at the allowances, notes and tags to let you know what questions to ask to reveal more details.

Contact us today!