Should you go with the lowest price bid for your remodel?
Once you’ve decided on remodeling an area of your home, one of the most important and overwhelming aspects can be finding a contractor and determining which estimate is best for the project and your budget. It can be tempting to immediately disqualify higher bids and hire the contractor with the lowest priced bid to help you save money, but is that really the best option? Choosing a bid shouldn’t just depend on price.
When receiving bids, it is important to remember that the devil is in the details. Get multiple estimates to determine where the price range falls for your project and to compare what exactly you are getting for your money. As each contractor will likely have a different estimating style, it can be hard to compare bids apples to apples. That said, look for the major categories, such as demolition, materials, installation, labor and whatnot to see how they compare.
One bid might be more detailed or include more customized services, which could make it higher in price. In this case, ask the contractors with the lower priced bids about any information or services that the higher priced bid detailed. These may already be included in their respective bids, or it may not be something they offer. While a seemingly too-brief bid may include the details in larger buckets or may not offer the same level of personalized care, it can also reflect poor planning, leading to a higher final project price down the line. And this is what you need to determine when comparing bids.
From a behind the scenes standpoint, pricing is largely based on economics, including:
The quantity and quality of materials
If you haven’t provided the contractor with the exact materials you would like to use during the estimating phase (which is very common) the contractor will likely ask a series of questions to determine the finish level you want and will provide the estimate based on that answer. Ensure you get clarity on the assumptions made by the contractor about materials before you make your decision so you aren’t surprised when it comes time to buy items that weren’t included in the bid.
The time of year for the project
Hiring a contractor during a slower time of year could result in a cheaper final project price, as they might be more likely to price the bid more competitively.
The time spent on your project
A crew that needs to move from your kitchen to your bathroom could have lower labor fees as opposed to when they move from your kitchen to another families project then to your bathroom. This is because the crew saves both money and time not needing to move tools and equipment.
In order to help you determine if the lower priced bid is one you should seriously consider, you will need to seriously review the bids, compare what they contain, and ask the below questions:
Is the contractor licensed and insured?
Do they belong to a professional association such as BBB, NARI, or NKBA?
What do online reviews about the company say?
Is the bid missing any materials or labor costs that could delay the project or raise the final project price later on?
In addition to pricing, there are other aspects you should consider when hiring a contractor:
Who do you feel most comfortable with?
Use the time during the initial consultation appointment to experience the different personalities and communications styles of each contractor. You need to determine whom you will feel most comfortable with, as they will be in your home and potentially around your family for the duration of the project.
What is the timeline for the project?
Some people may also be concerned with the timeline for the project, as they don’t want to be put out of their space for too long. Take a look at how long before construction can start and how long the contractor estimates the project will take to complete.
Does the bid allow room in your budget for any unforeseen issues?
Sometimes, contractors will start projects only to find faulty wiring or plumbing that needs to be corrected. Perhaps the work is just old and needs to be brought up to code, or perhaps there was previous work done by an inexperienced person. Either way, there would be no way for the contractor to know and properly estimate how much it will cost to fix it until they start the project. Keep this in mind when reviewing bids to ensure that you don’t go too far over your budget.
Regardless of the project, the final estimate price doesn’t mean much without knowing all the specifications of the project and considering the personality and timeline of the contractor. Take the time to review each bid carefully to ensure you are hiring the contractor that will do the best work for your home at the best price for your budget.