Piling will cost you if you don’t know the difference between Price vs Cost

By | Blog

Being out on site and talking to new Clients, I’ve seen people launch into early works without a key skill that’s essential to success. That skill is to know the difference between COST and PRICE.

Often I hear “What’s the cost on that?” or “What’s the price on that?” because both words work when you are asking for a dollar figure. But they’re not always interchangeable, and that can become critical for your project.

Upon making a bad purchasing decision, and getting burnt, you won’t ever hear someone ask “What was the price on that proposal?” Instead, they ask, What did that cost me?”

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So, while the terms appear similar, there is a huge difference, and the difference matters in construction. Knowing the difference takes you out of the present moment (price) and into the future (cost). It takes you from short term (price) to long term (cost).

Let’s say you have three quotes, and the cheapest is priced at $190 per lineal metre. But what if a rate is initially “priced” cheaply and ends up “costing” you? What does the rate cover? Is it open to change?

A Builder told me yesterday about a bad price experience he had last year. He employed a piling contractor on what he thought was a cheap lineal metre rate, but once they got on site, the ground conditions were different to the Geotech report. A different drill rig was needed to drill deeper piles, and it ended up costing him an additional $5,000 per day.

A lower price from one contractor could end up costing you more than a higher price from another contractor

The Business End:

As you look at proposals from different contractors, ask these questions to differentiate cost and price;

  1. What scope of works does your proposal relate to?
  2. What services or products do I need to allow for before, during or after piling that are not included in your proposal?
  3. What supervision or support from me have you assumed during piling?
Pre-piling costs I suggest you consider:
  • Demolition
  • Access works for drill rig to get onto site
  • Excavation
  • Temporary retaining walls
  • Services relocation
During piling on site consider:
  • Excavation to move spoil
  • Site management
  • Service/Fuel vehicle access
  • Concrete and steel delivery access
  • QA/QC checks
Post-piling consider:
  • Pile trimming
  • Removal of piling spoil
  • Removal of concrete waste
  • Clean out of piles for pile caps
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How you get to the final price should be based on what you are willing to pay and a reasonable assessment of budget. On the other side, the definition of cost includes “risks incurred”, i.e. covering all the risks you have taken on as the Client.

PRICE is just what the piling contractor has proposed, COST is what it cost you to get the foundations completed.

Call us on 02 9858 3740 for your next piling project and we can help make sure you get the right cost for your budget and project.


By | Blog


We have started this Blog to share with you:

  • ideas and comments about solving your Foundations problems
  • information and photos about building foundations safely and quickly
  • our journey in building a great Contracting business
  • our aims to finish projects with a high quality product that everyone involved can be proud of
  • commentary about our industry and other topics

We hope to work with you in the future.

Three Contractors’ Secrets to guarantee lowest cost for Foundations

By | Blog

1. Get a specialist Engineer to design the foundations

Have you noticed that the world is becoming more specialised? IT used to be that you could just go to the Doctor for whatever ails you had, but now you can get pushed and prodded by all sorts of health specialists. The same with fitness. There was a time when you would just pull on the runners and go for a run around the block. Now there are 24 hr gyms, bootcamps, and personal trainers. Even in personal training there are specialists for Mums and Bubs, Power lifting, endurance, body scuplting and so on.

It is the same with the Building industry. Originally all engineering was designed by an Engineer. This was then separated into Civil and Structural, Mechanical and Electrical. Civil and Structural are usually still combined, however in recent times Foundations has started to become a speciality within Civil/Structural. There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. Unqiue combination of Civil Engineering (ground effects, Geotechnical Engineering) and Structural (Concrete and Steel properties and design)
  2. Rapid technology development in foundations construction creating new advanced techniques
  3. Contractors moving into Design and Construct, creating specialist Foundations Engineers
  4. High risk involved in foundations design

What does this mean in terms of getting the lowest cost for Foundations?

It means that you should find a specialist foundation designer. A good designer will have experience in the latest and cheapest techniques and will be able to work with you to determine what is the best solution for your site.

2. Get the right Contractor

– check references

– check equipment

– do they present as an honest person

– will you be able to trust this person

3. Ask for lump sum fixed price

-Sounds obvious

– Contractors will give you every reason under the sun for not giving you a number

– Better to get a number with conditions that are understood, rather than an open ended arrangement

– Sometimes there will not be any way other than daily rate



Bonus No. 4: Consider a Daily Rate



Bonus No. 5: Avoid rock drilling



Bonus No. 6: Ask us for a Construction Feasibilty Report



Four ways to make sure you don’t get ripped off when you buy foundations

By | Blog

Foundations are expensive. No way around that. But they are cheap in comparison to the final value of the completed floor square metres in the new building. A new basement in Bellevue Hill could be worth $2 mill +, a garage in Bronte could add $500,000 to the value of an existing house.  Piles are more expensive than ground beams or brick foundations, but you can use less piles than ground beams because piles work harder. The key is too make sure you get the best price for the foundations for your project, and don’t get ripped off. Access Piering recommends the following four ways to do that:

1. Understand all options

Don’t be rushed into the most expensive option because you are under time or cost pressure. All projects today are highly cost sensitive, so you should understand all your options for foundations before making the right choice. Don’t rush into the cheapest option as this might have the highest risk. You also need to understand how risk is being shared between the Contractor and you. Other options might be a higher cost, but will provide you with better certainty and less overall risk. Or with better investigation the costs can be fixed. If time and cost needs to be contained, then talk with us about what your options are.

2. Get Contractor advice early in the design

Not every Architect and Engineer works with foundation design and construction every day. We do. We look at hundreds of projects every year. We know the common design methods that will make for an efficient design. When you have your Geotech report and the Architect drawings, we would be happy to give you advice on what the options are and what the best foundation design and construction method would be.

3. Consider “Design and Construct” for the foundations

Access Piering has delivered big cost savings through Design and Construct (D&C) on a number of recent jobs. Typically we can reduce foundation cost by 20%, depending on the design and ground conditions. How does D&C work? Simple:

  • Access Piering completes Geotech investigation and report
  • Structural Engineer for the building delivers the structural loads required to be supported by the foundations
  • Access Piering Engineering team take the structural design and the Geotech report and delivers a Foundation Construction Report
  • We meet with you to review the options and costs covered in the Report
  • Access Piering price the foundations, incorporating the best design possible

4. Test drill to determine strength and depth of rock

We see a lot of sites where the Geotech engineer is working off 1 or 2 boreholes because of limited access or equipment. On one site recently, the Geotech investigation went to 900 mm below the surface, but the basement carpark was designed to go 3 m below ground!  Well, we’re god, but no one can tell what is the ground without proper investigation.

One day of investigative drilling in between demolition and foundations construction could save you a substantial amount of money.

Access Piering can arrange for a test drill on your site to determine strength and depth of the rock in the ground. Coupled with a D&C approach, this is a very powerful method to get the best possible price for foundations.

Access Piering’s Top 5 Tips to avoid cracks in the Neighbours’ House

By | Blog

We are often asked how we can stop a building cracking, by preventing movement in the ground, especially when the foundations need to be constructed as close as possible to an adjoining property owners house, or another fragile/delicate building. The truth? You can’t stop movement in the ground, and you can’t stop a building moving as the ground underneath that building moves. Be careful of anyone saying that using their method the ground will definitely not move. This is simply not possible.

All digging and drilling in the ground will cause some movement in the adjacent ground. It has to.

What you can do is take precautions to ensure that the ground moves as little as possible, and the building that you want to protect is protected from any movement.

Access Piering recommends the following five tips to help you on your next sensitive excavation:

1. Get Good Geotechnical Engineering Advice

Sounds obvious I know, but don’t try and scrimp and save on your Geotech. Ask your Geotechnical Engineer what their advice is. Push them to give you an answer regarding the potential for ground movement and what they recommend for options for the foundations. Unfortunately the Geotechnical Engineers are limited by the information they can determine from drilling. On some sites we see the Geotechnical Engineer only had one borehole to determine what was in the ground. If you are limited on your site in access, consider using our specialist geotech drilling rigs – call us for more information.

2. Understand the zone of influence

The Zone of Influence is the area of the ground under and beside the foundations that is under pressure from the weight or load of the foundations. Generally if you are digging anywhere below a 45 degree line below the horizontal point where the foundations meet the ground, you are in the Zone of Influence. This means that any excavation in this Zone could affect the foundations.

We strongly recommend you only use CFA drilling or shoring wall prior to any excavation if you need to excavate in the Zone of Influence.

3. Understand all options before you start

If you have a sensitive project you should understand all your options for foundations. We suggest that you don’t rush into one option that appears to be the cheapest and the best, as this could be the one option with the highest risk to you, and the lowest risk to the Contractor. Other options might have a higher cost, but will provide you with better certainty. If time and cost needs to be contained, then talk with us about what your options are.

4. Ask us about Low Vibration Drilling

For highly sensitive ground drilling Access Piering has developed a unique technique that imparts a high torque but low vibration into the ground. This was developed from years of drilling in Sydney in rock and soft soils right alongside multi-million dollar mansions.

We recently had our Low Vibration Drilling technique checked by Geotechnical Engineer for vibration and noise and for both we were well below the criteria set.

5. Consider ground movement dampening techniques

Like eggshell insulation in a recording studio, there are techniques that Access Piering can adopt on your project to absorb the ground movement. Each project tends to be different, so each project requires it own design.

As always we are happy to talk to you about your next project.