“You should always get three bids and
inspect every line item.”
Three Bids, Not necessarily. This tactic is probably responsible for more dissatisfaction within the remodeling industry than any other single factor.
If your objective is to get a quality job at a fair price, simply comparing it to another estimate is often very misleading. There aren’t any “standard” prices or “standard” specifications for remodeling projects. Each quote or estimate you receive is a reflection of what’s included in the actual job that a particular contractor is planning on completing for you. Asking contractors to price involved projects with preliminary information and then trying to scrutinize the details of resulting bid will only lead to misjudgments. Asking contractors to give you every detail of pricing will not reveal the best contractor choice. Every contractor will get better and worse pricing on some things than others. Seeing an item on a proposal that looks high does not mean that anything on the form is overpriced. Seeing lower prices may mean that the contractor will run out of money prior to finishing your project or that the quality of your project will suffer.
Given that you are buying something that does not yet exist (as opposed to a car that you can test drive, for example) it’s impossible to tell how similar (or far apart) one contractor’s proposed job is from the next.
Even if you think everything is the same or “similar enough,” it rarely is and you won’t discover this until the job is underway or worse yet, completely finished. This is after you’ve invested some or all of your money. Most likely this will amount to thousands of dollars!
In the case of buying a car and comparing prices from one dealer to another, you are much more likely comparing the EXACT same car – built by the same manufacturer. But, you’re not buying a car! In fact, what you are buying is not even built yet. You can’t “try it out”. You can’t “test drive” it. You can’t even see it!
This is true whether the remodeling project is basic or complex. Even with a job as basic as replacing windows or roofing, one contractor’s methods and materials can be (and often are) vastly different from the next. Even building codes don’t adequately protect you from these variances.
When you compare prices in this business it’s far too easy to be fooled or misled by not fully understanding what each contractor is planning on doing nor how each one plans to do it. Most contractors are not very good at communicating exactly what it is that they plan on doing, nor are they good at explaining how they may differ from the other contractors that you may be considering
Therefore, if you get different “prices”, without doing much of the other due diligence as I explain throughout this guide, you may believe all of the contractors you’ve called are much more similar than they really are. This may very well tempt you into justifying one of the lower priced contractors. In this business, taking an approach like this can be very dangerous and oftentimes…VERY EXPENSIVE!
If you’re concerned about getting a “good deal”, consider relying on a contractor that has an excellent reputation. I believe it’s very rare to find a contractor that has earned an outstanding reputation for quality and service that charges too much for the work they provide. In fact, if they didn’t do exceptional work or charged too much, they wouldn’t have a good reputation nor a substantial list of satisfied clients. They simply couldn’t fool such a large number of people into believing that they were good if they weren’t indeed good.
Many people who consider the method of getting multiple bids simply believe they are well served to solicit bids, then, throw out the high and the low and take the one from the middle. As you continue to learn everything that I share in this guide, you’ll soon be free of this distorted thinking.
Instead of simply inviting contractors to come by to look at your job, ask around first to see who has a good reputation in your area for doing a great job on projects similar to yours. Get recommendations from friends, relatives, neighbors, and local lumberyards.
Take note of any job signs that you see in your area and stop by the job site to have a look around. Talk to the homeowners to see what they have to say about the contractor.
f you feel confident enough with the quality, dependability and reputation of the recommended contractor, by all means, consider stopping there without contacting others. It may go against “conventional wisdom” but I honestly believe you will be far happier as a result. Additionally, calling other contractors may simply confuse you.