Can We Buy Our Own Windows?

Or buy my own countertop… Builders get these questions a lot. Here’s why a Yes answer is seldom in the homeowners’ best interest.

It’s not unusual for new-home clients to ask their builder to use a trade contractor with whom the clients (but not the builder) have an established relationship, or to let them buy their own plumbing fixtures or other items. Most builders won’t agree to this. Sticking to familiar trade contractors is a policy that’s in the best interest of the builder and the homeowners. The reasons have to do with the business relationships between builders, suppliers, and trade contractors.

Purchases from familiar suppliers

Let’s start with purchases. Allowance selections and purchases are made from suppliers we have worked with before, and for good reason. The builder who agrees to use unfamiliar suppliers or owner-sourced products in critical applications can’t guarantee the reliability of those products, can’t stand behind the warranty, and risks problems with the schedule and budget.

For example, imagine that the homeowner wants to buy windows from someone they know who can get them a deal! The builder does not have a relationship wth the supplier and he does not know anything about how the supplier does business. If there are problems with the windows such as delivery delays, damaged products or missing parts will the supplier stand behind the product? Will the supplier work with the builder to ensure everyone is satisfied with all the windows? A problem may develop with a window over time; in the past all of our suppliers have serviced the problem with no questions asked. Most important is a high level of trust and confidence between the builder and the supplier; this type of relationship needs to develop over time.

Proven relationships between builders, trades and suppliers is a very important element that can’t be overlooked, this is what drives a succesful project.

Builder-selected Trade Contractors

There are even more compelling reasons for using regular trade contractors. Builders depend on trade contractors as much as they depend on employees—trade partners are an integral part of the builder’s team. Thus, builders use only trade contractors who have proven themselves. With proven trades, accurate estimates can be assembled quickly, and the builder understands and trusts the quality promised by those estimates.

Most builders test out new trade contractors on small jobs and then evaluate their work over time. Do they consistently produce work that meets the builder’s quality standards? Do they work well with the builder’s project managers? Do they know how to estimate accurately? How quickly do they respond to service calls? Does their work stand up over three or four years? Yes, it can take several years to determine whether a trade partner can be trusted with minimal supervision on a large and complex job. Sometimes the builder is impressed with a trade on the first job only to be disappointed on later projects.

In fact, the builder who agrees to use unvetted trade contractors risks losing control of the building process. The painting crew that is doing just one job for the builder may not be as conscientious as the crew that relies on the builder for a majority of its work. Even if the homeowner agrees to take responsibility for the end result, any problems will reflect badly on the builder’s reputation. And remember—that good reputation is a factor as to why the clients hired the builder in the first place.

The point is, proven relationships between builders, trade contractors and suppliers are a very important element of the project that can not be overlooked and are what drives a successful project.

This pays off when the inevitable problems arise. Such as a  schedule change due to a weather delay, trade contractors who have been treated well are more likely to change their schedule and do whatever it takes to keep the project on time and on budget. After all, everyone’s on the same team.


Make it a great day!
David Baud
David Baud CGR, CGB, CGP
Baud Builders, Inc.
PO Box 5708
Wakefield, RI 02880

(401) 789-1176 – Phone
(401) 789-2258 – Fax

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