Blog Version 5 of 6
Windows are another interesting opportunity for direct comparisons amongst the various dealers. There is a specific number of openings with specific operating conditions and all need to be within narrow tolerances on rough opening sizes, providing a somewhat ‘apples to apples’ comparison despite the variety of brands. The salespeople were very good in asking questions to make sure they were quoting the correct size and operation of windows. All dealers priced a low to mid-level vinyl window without jamb extensions, no two packages were from the same manufacturer. The window package pricing varied by a total of $988 and three of the window quotes were within $25. Obviously, the building material dealers know window packages are easy to compare and likely to be scrutinized so they maintain strict margin limitations on this product. Beyond the individual windows, three of the dealers (Dealer 2, Dealer 3, Dealer 5) included a primed jamb extension material. Two provided shims (Dealer 3, Dear 4) and three provided window flashing tape (Dealer 1, Dealer 3, Dealer 4). Only one dealer (Dealer 4) included silicone for sealing the windows during installation.
The drywall quotes left a lot to be desired. It’s quite obvious many of the dealers would prefer not to be in the drywall business at all. Two of the dealers (Dealer 1, Dealer 3) only provided two line items in their drywall quotes. The other three didn’t do munch better. Only two (Dealer 2, Dealer 5) provided prices on corner bead, joint tape and joint compound. One dealer (Dealer 4) provided water resistant sheet rock for the areas likely to be exposed to water or high humidity, such as the bathrooms. Despite the low number of SKUs, the quantities and pricing varied greatly, from a low of $3700 to a high over $5880. It is likely that these type dealers don’t typically participate in drywall sales, as the purchase of material is probably delegated to the drywall subcontractor. Regardless, this was an opportunity for the dealers to provide pricing on an item they all keep in stock.
Interior Doors & Trim
Interior doors are another area where dealers can be directly compared. There are a specific number of doors with specific sizes called out on the plans. No mistakes were made in this portion of the estimating process, so comparisons can be made on quality and pricing. Dealer 2 provided the lowest price by far on the interior door package, 28% lower than the nearest competitor. Beyond that, three of the quotes were within $130 with one outlier several hundred dollars higher. It is likely that the lowest priced quote was utilizing a very low-quality door whereas the others were using a primed MDF mid-grade door. Beyond the doors, the trim quantities, style and pricing was all over the board. While it was helpful that all dealers submitted pricing on this product, no reasonable comparisons could be made between any of the quotes. One dealer (Dealer 4) included pricing for shelving including the rod, and brackets required to support the shelving.
A wide variety of pricing with exterior doors existed among the dealers. This is due to the dealers all quoting different quality of doors with differences in material (steel/fiberglass) and light options (full/half/combo) and one dealer (Dealer 4) giving an allowance. One dealer (Dealer 1) didn’t specify door material and quoted one half light and two full light doors. Another (Dealer 2) quoted one fiberglass door for the front entrance and the rest metal doors. Dealer 3 quoted all fiberglass doors and Dealer 5 also quote one fiberglass door with the rest being metal. As a result, accurate comparison cannot be made directly between the dealers, but the pricing difference between the low (Dealer 5) and the high (Dealer 3) of $2100 has a significant impact on the bottom-line pricing. Only one dealer (Dealer 5) included garage door pricing as asked. This again was another $2100 potential impact to the bottom line that easily could have gone unnoticed when making a quick or hasting review of various pricing estimates.
Insulation, like drywall, was another area where multiple dealers offered disappointing or no pricing information. One dealer (Dealer 1) omitted pricing all together. A second dealers (Dealer 2) only submitted pricing for attic chute vents, leaving off any insulation for walls or the attic space. Dealer 3 provided pricing and quantity information for wall insulation; however it was for 24” wide product while the entire structure was planned to be framed 16” on center. This dealer also provided attic insulation pricing with R38 batts when blow in attic insulation is typical. Dealer 4 provided pricing for 1 package of insulation, presumably for use in the framing portion of the project to insulate blind corners or other areas that would be inaccessible once the rough framing was complete. Dealer 5 included the attic chutes, blow in insulation for the attic and Kraft backed insulation for the walls. Insulation is another area that can significantly distort package pricing when multiple dealers arbitrarily decide not to quote portions of a project without communicating the absence to the customer.
This LBM blog post is one of a series of posts outlining the findings from a study conducted on 5 various building material suppliers. To download the entire White Paper visit: https://www.lbmsupply.com/lbm-white-paper or visit https://www.lbmsupply.com/shop for purchase options of unredacted versions with pricing included.