When selecting contractors for their home renovation project, many homeowners often pick the contractor who tables the lowest bid. This is one pitfall to avoid, especially if there’s a huge difference in price between the highest bid and the lowest bid. Consider yourself lucky if you can find a contractor who quotes a very low estimate and still delivers on the project to your satisfaction. In many cases, a low bid should be treated as a red flag, especially for major renovation projects. You may find yourself needing to hire another contractor after a shoddy job by the first one. To avoid such a costly and ugly scenario, take a look at the following tips:
Go over all project details
Are you thinking of a complete kitchen makeover? Maybe you’ve set aside some 25k for the project, hoping that it can get the job done. But then when you receive several bids, the highest quotes about 60k, while the lowest comes in at 30k. Isn’t it obvious that you should go for that low bid? Well, only if it’s a risk worth taking.
Before accepting any bids, you’d do well to research kitchen remodeling costs first. This will help you arrive at a good guesstimate for how much your project should cost. In our example, the National Association of Realtors quotes 60k as the average cost of a complete kitchen renovation. If this cost looks prohibitive at the moment, rather than hire a suspiciously cheap contractor, consider doing some DIY improvements in the meantime. You’d be surprised to know just how much you can do to improve your home with some cool tips from such sites as http://www.diyluke.com/.
Vet your contractor
Your contractor may win you over with their charming personality, but perhaps they are not as good when it comes to getting the work. Don’t base your choice of contractor on personality—the best proof of their competence is in the work they’ve handled before. So even when a trusted friend gives you a referral, you must remain skeptical until you can vet the contractor yourself. To begin with, make sure that the contractor has done for the friend the exact same type of work you need done. Otherwise checking out online reviews on sites such as Home Advisor may be your best bet for finding a reliable contractor.
Another step you must taking when hiring a contractor is to check if they’re licensed and insured. They should also belong to some pro association, such the NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry). This is a good sign that they are running a professional operation.
Don’t compare apples to oranges
You may have heard that it’s smart to get bids from at least three different contractors. That’s some really good advice no doubt, but bear in mind that you can only compare the bids accurately if they provide the same details. Some contractors may include a detail in their estimate that another has left out. As an example, one contractor may include pulling permits, while another doesn’t. Rather than make assumptions, it would be best to ask the latter about this cost.
You may discover that the cheaper bids are not always comprehensive. For example, there may be some difficult parts in the project that will require some additional expertise. A bid that’s too brief will omit such details. So when a contractor highlights some things in their bid that other contractors have left out, ask they how they would cover the costs for those things.
Motivate your contractor with money
Money is a huge motivator, which is why it’s important to play the money game right. If you pay your contractor too much in the early stages, there won’t be much left to motivate them to stay on track. It’s also not a good idea to pay the contractor in small installments. Instead, you may want to split the payment into two parts—a down payment, with the rest to be paid upon completion of the project.
Some states like California, however, will not allow more than 10% of the project cost to be paid as down payment. If this rule applies in your state, then a 10% payment followed by 40% in the middle of the project should do the trick.