Stephanie Witt

Kitchens by Stephanie

Grand Rapids, Mich.

Big50 1996

Our proposals are extremely detailed as far as telling clients what they're going to get: model number, size, color. If the client demands breakouts, we try to do it in large segments -- electrical allowance, cabinet allowance, plumbing allowance. It's a rare client who wants a line-by-line breakout. When someone does, I explain that it's similar to buying a car. If you want leather seats or air conditioning, they itemize those. So if you'd like to upgrade from laminate to Corian or granite, it's X dollars more. We're selling a room, not component parts.

Larry Murr

Lawrence Murr Remodeling

Jacksonville, Fla.

Big50 2001

If it's a contracted price, we don't show any detail except for allowances for items to be selected, like light fixtures or floor coverings. We do our detailing in the specifications, but we don't show numbers. If we're doing a cost-plus job, we give them detailed estimates of all the costs from a list of 24 categories.

Jim Mirando Jr.

Excel Interior Concepts and Construction

Lemoyne, Pa.

Big50 2002

We write very detailed specs. As far as pricing, we give them a lump sum. We don't want to haggle about how much light bulbs cost. We give them four legal-sized pages of specifications -- every item and every product -- and a price for the entire project. And we stick to that price. Sometimes they ask why they didn't get a price breakout, and we explain that we are a full-service company supplying the whole project. Usually that's sufficient.

Robert Wright

Alpha Contracting

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Big50 1999

In addition to the plans, we will generally provide a very detailed set of specifications that go beyond what is stated on the plan. Included in those specs will be allowances, as well as clarification of items that are not our responsibility in the project. We find that by being thorough and detailed, and by reviewing everything with our clients, we go into the project with similar sets of expectations and end up producing a better end result.

As far as pricing, 98% of our work is lump sum pricing where we provide a price for the total project. The only other area where we will provide pricing guidelines is for allowance items.

Marilyn Bergman

Owens Construction

Powell, Ohio

Big50 1999

We have the homeowners sign off on very detailed specs. We get very detailed because they need to know what they have to choose, and we need to know what they've approved. The actual specs don't include pricing. Instead, we give them a bottom line price that shows allowances.

Gary Nash

Nash Construction

Marshall, Va.

Big50 2002

Pricewise, we share as little as possible when it comes to the details of the estimate, except where allowances are categorized. I've found a lump sum with allowances is the way to go. I recently had a customer who insisted on having a unit-cost breakdown. I told her before we even got started that I didn't have a problem with that, and that I mark up by a 1.5 factor. She seemed savvy enough to realize that was the norm.