Mr and Mrs Smith decide to find a contractor to remodel their home with the hope of getting the kitchens of their dreams. This is the project that has been years in the making and is long overdue. The kitchen is dark and outdated, drawers are broken, there is a lot of wasted space, it is definitely TIME for new kitchen!
Like most people, Mr and Mrs Smith contact 2-3 builders and collect estimates. During each appointment they may look at some photos of the contractor’s past projects and ask questions like, “How long have you been in business?” or “How soon can you start?”. Then they compare the estimates and make their decision. They might feel like they have done their homework. After all, the typical homeowner has been advised to, “Collect two to three free estimates, compare prices and hire the contractor who isn’t the cheapest or most expensive”. Seems logical. Or does it?
Most homeowners make their decisions based on comparing estimates. It’s not that this is wrong, it’s just extremely hard (if not impossible) to do. The problem with this is there is no industry standard for estimating a project and all contractors offer different levels of service. Plus, no two companies are alike. In addition to this, the typical free estimate is based on a one to two hour visit to the home and a ton of incomplete information causing a horribly inaccurate bid. Overall, it is impossible to do a true apples–to–apples comparison. So why compare estimates at all?
We recommend a different approach, thoroughly check your builder, if he has got a track record of delivering similar projects on time and to the budget, if he has a clean reputation on the Internet, if all necessary documents (Public liability insurance, Health & Safety etc.) are in place. So as long as your budget and contractors budget are aligned, spend time interviewing the contractor himself. After all, you will be spending the next several weeks and months working with this individual or company. It would be best to make sure that they meet your expectations and that the two of you are able to clearly communicate.