Get detailed, thorough estimates from contractors
Farmers come by the do-it-yourself attitude naturally. It’s pretty much in the job description. However, there are projects along the way in which farmers need to hire a contractor to coordinate and complete the work. Whether the producer plans to build a fence, barn, shop or other structure, getting an accurate estimate is an important step in the process.
Acquire Several Bids
Before starting a new project, seek out multiple bids. Construction experts recommend producers acquire estimates from several different contractors. Even if it seems like extra work to solicit multiple estimates for a project, experts say shopping around will pay off in the long run.
Obtain Detailed Estimates
In order to compare the estimates between contractors, the bids must include the same specifications. Each estimate should be as detailed as possible. This allows producers to accurately compare bids from different contractors. It also serves as a guide to determine why one estimate may be more or less than another.
A detailed estimate will also give producers an accurate picture of what they are paying for. When reviewing bids, compare the quality of materials and supplies. Building experts state in construction projects the saying, ‘You get what you pay for,’ typically rings true.
Include Specifics in Estimates
The estimate contractors provide should include detailed information and pricing for labor, materials, site preparation, equipment and supplies. Obtaining the needed information, starts with producers writing out all they want and expect in the project. “You want to be as thorough as you can, and you want to take the extra time to do that,” Jim Crawford, University of Missouri Extension Field Specialist in Agricultural Engineering, explained.
The bid should also state a timeline for starting and completing the project. In some cases, it may be months before a contractor starts on a project. Producers need to know upfront and have in writing when the work will start and when it will be finished.
Though it is not common practice in agriculture projects, it is an option for producers to ask a contractor to add a financial penalty clause in the contract. In the event the contractor misses the start or completion date, the contractor would be subject to a financial penalty.
The bid should also include a termination date. It is important to pay close attention to how long the contractor will honor the estimate. “The price of building materials changes so rapidly, you are fortunate if you can get a bid that is good for more than 30 days,” Crawford said.
The contract should include information about change orders. Inevitably, additions or changes occur over the course of a construction project. Producers need to make sure they have in writing how their contractor handles change orders. Some contractors charge an additional fee if clients make a change to the original plan. Other contractors only bill for the price of the new materials and additional labor. Construction specialists say producers need to discuss this issue with potential contractors and then make sure it is written into the contract. Additionally, contractors should be licensed, bonded and insured.