Starting projects( (any major project) can be exciting, but at the same time confusing, difficult and hard to understand. Questions arise, like where do you start? What do you ask a shop for? How do you pick parts that you want installed on your vehicle? How do you know that they are the right parts? Having a wish-list that translates into a complete project, matches a budget, and is set up to make sure that the project can be completed without breaking that budget is probably one of the most difficult parts of our job. Let us begin by answering the following questions that may have arisen in your mind:

What is a build plan? 

What is an estimate? 

How do they affect each other? 

How do we include both of them into one document at Anaheim Rod and Custom? 

A build plan is an outline of the work to be performed on a car to bring the car to completion. The build plan will itemize and identify important steps in the process, and will tie the steps together in the most effective manner possible. Identifying the current condition and status of your vehicle overall is very important at this point. Then the feedback from you, the client, about how you want each item to perform, look, and behave when finished helps to create the plan. Basically we want you to tell us what you want to do with the vehicle, how you intend on using/driving your car and how you want it all to look and come together in the end. It is important that you put budget aside for this portion of your planning. A mutual understand of the desired quality is so important at this point. Many times clients are so focused on budget that they will make decisions that will ultimately cost them more (budget or value) in the end.

One of the most important parts of a build plan is consistency and continuity of the work listed. You should be able to see and understand how each item will lead into the next item. It should make sense to you, even if you do not have a lot of automotive experience. This is a common shortcoming when other shops are involved. They may be providing a cost, but not giving any kind of real outline of how the work is going to be performed or how its possible to complete the job for the cost outlined (the plan). Having no plan clearly laid out before beginning leaves room for miscommunication and overlooked items which can lead to customer disappointment and additional surprise expenses.

At Anaheim Rod and Custom we do our very best to be transparent with our clients from the beginning and communicate with them throughout the build process . We have a long list of satisfied customers whom we have built both cars for and relationships with and this relationship begins with the build plan and initial estimate.

An estimate is the outline of the costs associated with the work being performed. The estimate will lay out times, parts costs, itemizing the expenses in a simple and clear manner. Estimates differ from build plans as they are focused on documenting the per item costs, like cost per hour used, or cost per item used, vs defining or outlining a plan for completion. Each line will represent an important step in the overall process of completing your car, and then each line will be broken up into smaller bits, hours, items, etc. This will help show how the time will be spent. Using the word estimate to outline this part makes it clear that this is the first and best educated guess for how long it will take to perform an action before the item is physically disassembled and inspected. It is also important to note that just like any rough draft, there are going to be changes along the way once more progress is made. If you have any restrictions for budget you must make those clear up front. When restrictions are made you are giving us a “cut off” point, and accepting that once we reach that point your project may or may not be done. If the budget restriction does not allow for discovered necessary work or steps to be covered, and that work prevents completion or operation, you must understand that you are accepting that chance and telling us to stop in this situation.

Deciding on the quality of the work you want performed can be tricky. It is difficult for some to figure out, or communicate and it can have huge impacts on the total costs and final result of the job. More often than not, our idea of what good, ok, great, or perfect is, is not in line with what the clients interpretation of those levels. For us to bridge this gap we need to spend time reviewing the processes and completed work in the shop. By reviewing the processes we can give you areas where we can add or eliminate work that will affect the final price, and incorporate it into the build plan so that we can see its affect on the final price. Looking at completed work will allow us to see what the end result will be with different processes and plans. Something as simple as the final coating on a part compared to how many parts will have this coating can multiply very fast, which can end up changing the final cost by thousands. Work with us to educate yourself, plus look for examples, pictures, descriptions, of items that you may want to use to show and explain different aspects of your build. Be prepared to spend some time discussing and figuring out the quality, and be prepared to move your “budget” around as needed when you start to understand the quality that your budget will bring.

Do you find yourself wondering how hours translate into work completed on an estimate? This is a very important idea and concept, certainly important in understanding how what you are paying, results in completed work. When you see a line item on the estimate with a time, what does that time outlined represent? The times listed on our estimates are the best understanding of the time it will take for us to complete the item listed. We keep to the time listed unless we come across work or issues that are outside the scope or understanding of the work process.

Basically, if we have three hours to install the front brakes on a car, and the spindle is stripped, this would be an item that would add to the total time needed to complete the job. Once approved it would be added to the estimate on that line. The line does not represent some kind of promise or guarantee that no matter what problem arise, we will complete the work and not charge any more. It is a promise that we will give you three hours of professional, competent, accurate work from a qualified and trained technician. Starting with the line on the estimate, and a good understanding of the build, they will spend the first half hour of the time setting up parts, reading manuals and instructions, and verifying that the job can be completed, and that it can be completed in the time outlined. If during this time it becomes clear that more time, parts, or supplies will be needed, a new plan, with the added parts or materials, and an updated time required to finish the job will be created. We then work through the project toward completion, and if other items come up or prevent us from effectively completing the job we will again call and discuss, and they will be noted on the estimate.

When your estimate changes, it is important for you to communicate if you want each and every change to be reported live. Basically we need to know if you want us to stop working, and then call you and or communicate with you before we proceed with new or extra work. If this is the case that we have to stop and wait for approvals, we will need you to agree that you will cover the lost time waiting for the approvals. The other option that we have is that you get your monthly billing, but you approve us to make small changes that will affect our daily work, approve larger items a few days before they happen, and leave big approvals for your monthly billing email. Yes, a monthly update of work completed and the upcoming work outlined is something that our clients receive. We bill monthly for work completed and any new parts that may need to be purchased.

Smaller jobs are equally important for us to understand and outline the exact work being performed, and have a rock solid plan for how the work is going to be performed. Many times small jobs can have a big impact on the systems and components around them. For example something as simple as a leaking master cylinder could be a sign that there are many other issues with the brake system as a whole. Most of the time parts are the same age, so as one fails the others will start to fail or fail soon. So a small job that does not have a “contingency” plan for the entire system to be dealt with, and the client is not prepared for that possibility the job really should not be started.

How does this all come together ? How do we all work together to create the right plan? Once we all have the same objective and understand the process it is quite simple. Spend some time looking at different examples and types of similar work to what you want done. The internet is a great place to look for ideas for mechanical or technical ideas. If you want to look at paint or interior, body modifications, its best to go to local car shows. Talk to the people there about their car and get some information about things that interest you. It’s also a good idea to take detailed pictures when you can so hat we may review them with you. With all of this information we are able to now give you a ball park cost, this is something that we will discuss together, and it will be the main basis of the build/estimate.

So we have reviewed the project, we understand what we want and how to do it, and we have also reviewed some ball park costs. The next thing that happens is the creation of the actual build plan/estimate. We will then review it together and if it all looks good and it is approved then we schedule the work. Please call us today (714) 203-6589 so we can set an appointment to take a look at and/or discuss your car and your vision. You can also send an email to with images of your car and a detailed description of what you are wanting to do. So that we may have the opportunity to review and respond. We appreciate this opportunity to earn your business!