When it comes to remodeling, contractors and homeowners initially have somewhat different objectives. While the contractor is focused on guarantees (that they have the job, will get paid, etc.), the homeowner often starts by simply weighing what it will cost.
But, according to experts, “the art of the deal” in getting, comparing and choosing the right bid — and the right price — really lies in taking these four all important steps:
STEP 1: It begins with who you ask. A great carpenter or respected roofer is not necessarily a good choice for your kitchen or bath remodel. Larger projects include numerous trades (electrical, plumbing, etc.) which require planning, coordination, supervision and completion by an experienced general contractor. Job one is to narrow the field by determining who to ask for bids. Start by asking family, friends and neighbors for references. Then vet prospects by using one or more of many trusted online resources. Also contact public and private agencies such as the Better Business Bureau, the Contractors State License Board (www.cslb.ca.gov), National Association of the Remodeling Industry (www.NARI.org), the National Kitchen & Bath Association (www.NKBA.org) and related trade associations. Review many, then contact at least ten, four will probably reply and give you what you need to narrow your choice to the best two — keeping in mind proven integrity and experience are essential.
STEP 2: Remember three important words, “Planning, Planning and Planning.” Start by making sure the contractor knows what you want – and that you, in turn, know exactly what you’ll get. That new sink for your bath remodel? While you are envisioning a top-of-the-line designer beauty — the contractor may be planning and pricing a ho-hum standard builder model, which sets the stage for disappointment and problems down the line. Get specifications in writing that conform to your design plans and assume nothing!
STEP 3: Make sense out of the pricing. Insist on a clear and concise breakdown detailing labor, material and fixtures which allows you to compare separate elements line-by-line, item-by-item and to ask relevant questions. Also, inquire about allowances for any potential unseen costs that may arise in the plans or specifications.
STEP 4: Comparing one contractor’s price to two or three others allows you to determine averages for what seems fair and reasonable. One too high and one too low? The ability to compare apples-to-apples is where a clear and a concise price breakdown comes into play. Choosing the right bid requires being an informed customer with both patience and lots of study on your part. And finally, don’t be fooled by the low bidder. Do your homework and remember the old adage: “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”
A successful, well-known large contractor often used this closing line to make his point when offering a bid: “If you think I’m expensive… wait ‘til you hire someone cheaper.”
Point made and it is worth remembering.
To explore your home improvement project, schedule a virtual or in-home design consultation with a member of the award-winning Carey Bros. Remodeling team at https://careybros.com/contact.
You can get more tips at our website at www.careybros.com/blog or pick up a copy of our book, “Home Maintenance For Dummies 2nd Edition”