Building Quote: A Rant and a Haircut

It isn’t often I come right out and hammer on someone or something by name – but today I am naming names, it just has to be.

One of our prospective clients asked us to compare with a building quote provided to them from Bens Do It Best Lumber, in Wisconsin. Their quote was prepared using Construction Maestro® software (a registered trademark of Symun Systems, Inc.®).

I’ve never been in to Bens Do It Best Lumber, but my best guess is, the folks there are probably really nice folks. I also have never used the Construction Maestro software, but my best guess is… it is well intentioned.

Now, off to the rant races….

The building quote provided by Bens – does not list the design load carrying capacities of the building. No ground or roof snow loads, no wind speed or wind exposure, no seismic information or soil bearing pressures. Basically it is a dimensionally outlined box, with features which may or may not meet with the climactic conditions of the area it is to be built in.

If I was an end user – I would perhaps be concerned, but then again maybe not, as these folks should be my experts, right? They have my best interests at hand, or are they just trying to sell me something and place the onus upon me?

This proposed building happens to be in an area with a 70 psf (pounds per square foot) Ground Snow load. Assuming this is a low risk Category I building, the flat roof snow load would calculate to 47.04 psf, provided the building is unheated and the roof is partially exposed to the wind. These assumptions can only be guessed at – as again, no loads are listed on Bens building quote.

The Ben/Construction Maestro quote proposes to utilize single trusses spaced every four feet with 2×4 purlins laid flat on top of them spaced 24 inches on center.

Initially I had a potential “rub” with the roof purlins. Using the assumed loads, factoring in the reduction in roof load for a sloped steel roof, and using every reduction I can imagine, the 2×4 purlins would need to have a fiber stress in bending (Fb) of right around 1100. Now as long as Ben is providing at least a #2 grade 2×4, as opposed to the typical lumber yard Std&btr (standard and better), the purlins are going to be OK……..I just had to know, so I called Ben’s and got…dial 1 for  the Supermarket, 2 for Hardware, 3 for Subway, 4 for Lumber…..

I pushed 4 and did find out, if I was to purchase the correct lengths, they do have #2 graded 2×4. I feel so much better now – and I can get a footlong flatbread sandwich at the same time.

Working down the building quote it features “G-40 Builder’s Series” painted steel. This is a no warranty product, designed primarily for use as liner panels inside of buildings. Without asking specifically, there is no way the average building purchaser would ever be aware of this…at least until the color rapidly fades, or the panels rust through.

The quote includes a three foot wide steel entry door….could be a basic primed steel door in wood jambs, probably is not a commercial grade door with steel jambs and all factory finish painted.

Also included was a 15 foot wide by 11 foot 10 inch tall “double slider”. My best guess…this is a split (or bi-parting) door. All wood framed? Maybe, all metal framed? Probably not.

Long ago I learned if one sells on price alone, there will always be someone who will leave out enough things to be lower in price.

Give me great quality, great service and a fair price and I’m a buyer every time. And give me the buffalo chicken, pepperjack cheese, spinach, jalapenos, sliced green peppers…with extra sauce.  Don’t forget the three oatmeal raisin cookies!

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