What’s the Difference Between Fixed Price and Turnkey? Decoding Construction Contracts

When it comes to selecting a contract type for a construction project, there are several options to consider. Two popular types are fixed price and turnkey contracts. Each comes with its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s essential to understand how they differ to make the right choice for your project.

Fixed price contracts are agreements where the contractor is responsible for completing the project at a set price. These contracts often appeal to the budget-conscious as the contractor bears the risk of any cost overruns. However, this can lead to change orders if any changes are made to the project scope, which may increase the overall cost. In contrast, turnkey contracts include everything required to complete the project, making the finished project ready to “turn the key.” Often referred to as lump sum contracts, they provide a straightforward approach to project management.

Make sure to check out our ultimate guide to turnkey properties for more information on this topic.

Key Takeaways

  • Fixed price contracts offer a set budget, shifting project risk onto the contractor
  • Turnkey contracts simplify project management by providing a ready-to-use final product
  • It’s essential to consider the unique needs and risk appetite of your project when selecting a contract type

Understanding Fixed Price

Understanding Fixed Price

As someone who values financial freedom, it’s crucial to understand the concept of fixed price contracts, especially in the construction industry. A fixed-price contract, also known as a lump sum contract, is an agreement where the contractor and project owner agree on a specific price for the completion of the entire project scope. This pricing generally includes the cost of materials, labor, overhead, and the contractor’s profit margin.

I appreciate fixed price contracts because they offer price certainty and predictability for the project owner. Since the cost is established upfront, there is minimal risk of cost overruns, as long as the project scope doesn’t change significantly. This can result in more effective financial planning and investment decisions.

Fixed price contracts are often preferred when project owners have a clear understanding of the project scope, and the contractor can accurately estimate the direct and indirect costs involved. This is because a comprehensive understanding of the project reduces the chances of unexpected expenses for the contractor.

In a fixed-price contract, the contractor assumes most of the risk for cost overruns. If the actual costs exceed the initial estimate, the contractor must bear the additional expense. Conversely, if the contractor completes the project below the estimated cost, they can retain the additional profit.

However, with fixed-price contracts, there is always the possibility that contractors may be inclined to use lower-quality materials or cut corners to maintain their profit margin. This is where trustworthiness and reputability play a significant role in selecting the right contractor.

Fixed price contracts provide predictability and price certainty for the project owner, while transferring most of the risk to the contractor. This can be an attractive option for people who value financial freedom and prefer a clear understanding of their expenses upfront.

Exploring Turnkey

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As an individual over 40, I understand the frustrations and limitations of traditional financial advice and investing. One alternative that has become increasingly popular is turnkey real estate. But what exactly is a turnkey project, and how does it differ from a fixed-price contract?

In the world of construction and project management, turnkey refers to a project that is ready for immediate use upon completion. The term originated from the idea that the end-user can simply “turn the key” to open the door and begin operations. Turnkey projects are managed by a general contractor or an EPC (Engineering, Procurement, and Construction) contractor. The contractor has the design responsibility, oversees procurement, and supervises the construction process, effectively serving as a single point of contact for project owners.

In turnkey contracts, the contractor agrees to complete the project at a fixed price, while assuming most of the risk. This means that if any cost overruns or delays occur, the contractor is responsible for addressing them. The project owners can benefit from the lump-sum turnkey approach, as it helps to minimize surprises and avoid additional costs during the project’s lifecycle.

But why choose turnkey over fixed-price contracts? There are several reasons why a turnkey project might be more appealing. One advantage is the streamlined project delivery. Having a single point of contact can greatly reduce the time spent on project coordination. It also means that project owners do not need to be involved in every detail of the engineering, procurement, and construction processes – which can be quite liberating for those who want to focus on other priorities.

Moreover, turnkey contracts provide a higher level of certainty for project completion. Since the contractor is responsible for delivering a ready-to-use facility, there is a higher level of accountability for meeting project milestones and ensuring quality standards. This can be especially valuable for people like me who may not have experience managing construction projects.

Turnkey projects offer a comprehensive, hands-off approach for investors who want a ready-to-use property with minimal involvement in the construction process. While it might not be the right choice for everyone, it certainly provides an interesting alternative to traditional fixed-price contracts.

Comparing Fixed Price and Turnkey

Comparing Fixed Price and Turnkey


As someone who has been frustrated with traditional financial advice and investing, I have come to appreciate the differences between fixed price and turnkey contracts. Fixed-price contracts involve the service provider and the customer agreeing on a set price for the scope of work, providing predictability in costs and financial risk. In a turnkey contract, the contractor takes on the responsibility of delivering the entire project, including design, construction, and sometimes even operation.

So, why does this distinction matter for someone like me who is seeking financial freedom? For one, fixed-price contracts can be inflexible due to their nature. They typically don’t account for changes in project scope or conditions, meaning any alterations would require renegotiation of the contract. This can potentially affect my profits and investment returns.

On the other hand, turnkey contracts provide a more comprehensive solution, as the contractor assumes most of the project risk. This type of contract might appeal to those like me who are seeking stability in our investments – especially in the real estate sector. With turnkey contracts, I can rest assured that my financial risk is minimized, knowing that any unforeseen costs are typically absorbed by the contractor.

One more aspect to consider is the predictability of costs in each contract type. A fixed-price contract may provide cost certainty for the defined scope of work but may not offer protection from additional expenses due to unforeseen changes. A lump sum turnkey contract, however, usually means that the price I agree to is what I am going to pay, and any cost overruns are often the contractor’s responsibility.

Ultimately, as someone who wants to make wise financial decisions, understanding the differences between fixed price and turnkey contracts can help me choose the most appropriate option for my investments – one that aligns with my risk tolerance and financial goals.

For more financial education on turnkey real estate investing, make sure to check out the following guides: