Just because you are building in a remote town or acreage, costs should not dramatically increase. There will undoubtedly be increased delivery costs for larger items such as concrete, but by carefully managing the build and ensuring materials are on-site when needed with the minimum of fuss, run-away costs are managed. Indeed, remote sites typically have ample space to allow for fewer shipments - thus balancing out the higher necessary delivery costs of concrete/gravel.
A typical hidden cost in a cost-plus contract is the time and fuel costs of countless trips to the nearest lumber yard to collect unforeseen supplies. Even when that drive is only 10 minutes, the round trip can add to an hour. Minimizing the need for trips means that hidden cost is not added to your bill. Many builders love to feel busy driving around on their phones chasing up last minute items. That is all well and good, and sometimes justified, but guess who pays for all those trips?
Home location shouldn't increase costs
Just because you are building in a "premium" location such as a resort town, there is no real excuse for dramatically increased costs. Sure, there can be localised issues such as a larger snow-fall and thus a shorter building season but, fundamentally a home built in Invermere, Kimberley or Fernie should not cost dramatically more than a similar home built in Cranbrook. By carefully managing the overall process and tendering for fixed price sub-contracts homes can be built at a fair rate.
Our area of BC doesn't have a preponderance of General Contractors who set out specifically to be construction managers and who thus developed a solid grounding in estimating and procurement. The market should always be tested, but some contractors do not see it as part of their role to always look for the best prices.
That said, there is a large value to goodwill - and cherry picking between suppliers is also not going to work out in the long-run for builders. Cherry picking is a common trait of home-owner builders who don't care about their next build. They don't realise however that they are not really getting the best available price, merely the best retail price.
It is a fine balance to be willing to suck up some additional costs on some items - so long as the market is truly competitive then price per item should not be a major deciding factor, it is the delivered cost of the whole package that matters
Home packages become even more cost-effective for remote locations. Not only does a full package reduce the need to make unecessary trips (or pay for numerous deliveries) but the construction crew quickly establishes an unbroken rhythm to their work and thus the whole construction process speeds up dramatically.
Wastage is also reduced because the crew knows that someone has done accurate take-offs and thus it isn't just a case of ordering lift lots and using the nearest piece when a shorter one would have worked. That discipline of using the right quantity transfers into other aspects of the build and reduces the trips required to collect shortages in other materials.
Once your builder realises he is saving money by using a package, he will reduce the additional (contingent) costs within your quote.
If you can also accommodate a builder's less busy period you may be able to benefit from cheaper rates. Some of our more remote sites in the Kootenays can safely commence building earlier and start up to 2 months later than in the resort towns. Building a home in non-peak periods can be a good way to achieve a better price from the best contractors who are keen to extend the utilisation of their crews and overheads.
© Brecan Buildings Supplies Ltd, 13 Kutenai Road Fernie, BC, V0B1M5