Home renovation projects are significant undertakings. It is common for homeowners who may not have the time nor the expertise to do the work themselves to call in professionals to tackle these jobs.
According to the home improvement resource HomeGuide.com, for a bathroom remodel — one of the more popular improvement projects — installation and labor accounts for 10% to 25% of the total project cost.
Materials used account for the other components of an overall project cost. In the past, Homeowners negotiated the best rates possible by obtaining a number of bids from contractors, spelling out both labor and material costs and determining their best option.
These days, finding a contractor may at all be a challenge as demanded for their skills to continue to be in extremely high demand throughout the region.
Still, it’s better to wait for a skilled craftsman than to rush a project and pay more for lower quality work.
How do you assess the quality of a contractor? First, check as many reviews as possible. Go online, ask friends or your local lumber yard for recommendations, or rely on the Better Business Bureau to find reliable contractors. A contractor who seems too good to be true will not necessarily be so, but it’s still best to vet each professional thoroughly prior to signing a contract.
Cost basis vs bid basis
Certain contractors will produce an estimate based on the best guess of the cost of supplies then add on a flat fee or percentage for their services. This is called a cost basis bid. Others will create a bid that includes all of their anticipated supply and labor costs, known as a bid basis bid. Know what you’re getting to make the most accurate comparison.
Create a master itemized checklist
It’s easy to explain the project differently from one contractor to another when doing so verbally. That may result in a different plan and price. Instead, make a checklist of what you want done and have several copies to give to the contractors with whom you meet. This makes it easier to compare costs line by line. Have specific materials in mind. Make sure the bids are based on the same materials and tasks. For example, if you’re comparing window replacement quotes, make sure that each quote is based on the same window material and coating. Vinyl replacement windows may not cost the same as fiberglass or wood.
Small versus big contracting companies
Some bids may differ based on the manpower of the company. One contractor may view a project as an easy one that can be slipped right into the schedule. Another may have to devote more time and effort if it is being undertaken by one or two people. This can affect the cost in the quote — and it may affect the timeline. You’ll want to know whether your project has a dedicated crew or is an add-on to many other projects that crews will be working on simultaneously, and how that might affect timing.
Doing your own demos
Figure out if the contractor will allow you to perform a portion of the tear-out, clean-up or other tasks to save on labor costs. Make sure this is included in the bid. Comparing contractor work bids can be tricky, but it helps homeowners know they’re getting the best value for their money.