How much money is your next home renovation project going to cost you? If you’ve already begun the process of discussing plans and costing out your ideas, you might have a fairly good estimate. Web sites like Houzz and HGTV can provide good ballpark estimates for different projects, and if you’ve already contact a home renovation contractor or two, you might even have specific bids and estimates to work with.
But how do you choose between two home renovation companies? Does it all come down to cost?
Let’s set up a hypothetical situation to explore these questions in depth.
Imagine you’ve researched home renovation companies for a specific project (or set of projects) you’d like to accomplish. You have a fairly strong idea of what you want to accomplish and how much you’re willing to spend. You’ve researched home renovation companies in your area and whittled it down to just two candidates. Company ‘A’ has a much lower bid, yet company ‘B’ seems highly reputable — and their bid seems to be closer to the industry averages you’ve seen online.
How do you make your decision? What might compel you to ‘pass’ on the cheaper option and pay more for the same renovation?
If your home renovation dollars were actually on the line, you’d want to drill down into both of these estimates and find out where the discrepancy actually is. Rather than vague or ballpark estimates, you’d want everything to be as specific and itemized as possible. If you have this from both candidates, you should be able to see very clearly why the bids are different.
For instance, one company may have a special relationship with a certain manufacturer of building materials that allows them to offer you these materials at a lower price point. One company might be more experienced and skilled in terms of scheduling, and be able to offer a lower total labor estimate for that reason.
There may also be reasons the contractor does not want you to know about. For example, a very low bid may come with specific intentions to cut corners. Some contractors use this technique to win projects, intending to deal with the consequences later. Another contractor might simply bid higher the necessary, hoping that the potential client will agree and be none the wiser.
There are any number of reasons for two or more competing bids that simply do not match up — and we could list hypotheticals all day long! But the reality is, these ‘hypotheticals’ are a daily reality for homeowners. That’s why it’s so important to “drill down” into your renovation bids and estimates, and find out exactly why they’re different.
Remember — the winner in home renovation is the homeowner who receives the best “big picture value” as a result of the project. This could mean hiring the company with the lowest bid — or it could mean hiring the one with the highest bid.
Asking the right questions, and requiring contractors to provide you with more specific information about how they arrived at their estimates, is one of the most important ways to secure the best value (and greatest level of success) for your home renovation project.