Evaluating foundation repair bids is never an easy task. Typically there can be very different approaches, leaving the customer to decipher which approach is the best. (And, of course, we all believe our approach is the best!) Even more common, things that look somewhat similar on the surface can have some significant differences if you look closer.
We will use this blog post to highlight a few recent differences when the customer sent over a competitive bid and asked us to compare our bid to theirs. Our goal is to get you to thinking about some of these items, not to say negative things about our competition, either specifically or generally. There are a number of good firms out there, and you certainly should take steps to be a well-informed consumer.
Example 1: Recently we bid an interior drainage / waterproofing system for a home. The customer was interested in moving forward with our bid, however, there was a competitive bid which was significantly less expensive. Upon closer look, the competitive bid provided about half the linear feet of coverage that we had bid. The wording of the bid did make it confusing. The customer thought it was an “apples to apples” comparison, but in reality, our bid was quite a bit less per linear feet than the competitive bid. This fully explained all of the price difference.
In this circumstance, the customer decided to go with Foundation 1, but asked the question of why we proposed more linear feet and the competitor suggested less. This prompted a discussion about exactly which areas of the basement were going to be protected. In the end, the customer did most of what we suggested, but we worked together to identify a few areas that were at less risk of water damage and we were able to save the customer a bit on the cost of the project.
Example 2: We visited a home where settling was quite apparent. Doors and windows were not closing. When a home is sinking, the only real remedy is to do piers, which are quite expensive. So we prepared a bid which did a significant amount of piering work. The custom accepted the bid and we prepared to go forward with the project.
However, a few weeks later the customer called wanting to cancel the project. She said she had a company who was going to fix her problem for significantly less money. After looking at the competitive bid, we found the approach was not going to do anything to address her key issues (doors not working, cracks in drywall around window frames).
The repair suggested by the competitor would only address lateral movement (inward pressure on walls). Our review showed the lateral movement was within acceptable parameters and did not need additional support. However, the competitive bid was not going to do anything to address the fact that her house was sinking.
In this case, it is not really the customer’s fault. She saw a less expensive bid and the company told her it was going to address her problem. What was crazy was we do the same repair for lateral movement as the competitor had bid, for slightly less cost. In this case, discussing the repair plan and the very different approaches is smart. We are still in discussions with this customer. We hope she selects our project, as it will address her problems, and we feel she would just be throwing her money away with the other approach (yes, a lower cost, but wasted money), as it does not address the issues the house is clearly showing.
Example 3: We had a job where we were suggesting wall beams to brace the wall against internal, lateral pressure. We were competing against a company who was slightly cheaper than we were. Upon review of the bid, the competitor provided a 1 year warranty, where ours was a lifetime warranty. Of course, we lose a project here and there as warranties do not matter to some people (but much more often we win bids like this, as the stronger warranty is quite valuable).
The key point here is that it is not really an “apples to apples” bid. When we are talking about structural repairs, a year warranty is basically no warranty. And if we are warranting for the lifetime of the structure, it means we cannot scrimp on materials, techniques, or approach – and that we believe we are fully addressing the issue, not putting a “1 year” solution in place.
What may look like “apples to apples,” sometimes isn’t!
What do we suggest?
- Read the bids very carefully and know what you are paying for. F1 goes out of its way to ensure the bids are very detailed, itemized and clear.
- Ask your evaluator about the suggested repair and compare it to other approaches. We have a large number of “tools in the toolbox” for fixing foundation repairs. We are happy to speak with you on the phone, or even meet in person to discuss the bids. We have always found it is best to arm the customer with good, solid information.
- Look at the contract too. Ours is longer than most, as we are very specific about what is included and what exclusions are present. Shorter contracts are easier to read, but we have found they can be very broad and leave many areas where the homeowner is not as protected (particularly with warranties) as they think they are. When you are spending lots of dollars, reading and understanding the fine print is a good idea. We are also happy to answer any questions you may have about the contract.
- Ask for a bid revision which does provide an exact “apples to apples” comparison. We regularly revise bids and do estimates to show customers what we would charge for a comparable solution. We are happy to accommodate this request, and we would suggest you work with companies who are willing to openly provide this information
Evaluating foundation repair bids is a pretty big job – and can be complicated and challenging. We want to be a resource for you. We want to be a great source of information, even if you do not end up selecting Foundation 1.
Please contact the office or your evaluator if we can provide additional assistance.