To prepare a realistic bid so that clients are not surprised by additional costs after the project begins, Bill Keilty invites his subcontractors to a diagnostic conference or a “bid party.” “It has cut down 80% to 90% of unforeseen change orders,” says the owner of Keilty Construction in Boise, Idaho.

Keilty invites all the subcontractors to the site at half-hour intervals. During this time, he gives them each a copy of the parts of the building plan that pertain to their job and highlights any specific areas of interest for them. “The plumber can look at the existing plumbing line to make sure there is enough water pressure and adequate sewer lines for the addition,” Keilty says. After the sub has completed the walk-through, Keilty or his production manager meet with them to discuss their estimate.

Keilty does not charge homeowners for the two to four hours he spends meeting with subs. “It is a good way to get their faith and trust,” he says, and homeowners are more satisfied at the end of the project. “They do not have to worry about the final invoice. We do no additional work unless they ask for it.”