Ever so often potential customers, prospective customers and even family & friends will tell me their issues they have had or are afraid to have with contractors and remodeling in general. The two most recurring issues are: going over budget and how other contractors didn’t do exactly what they said they were going to do. I thought to myself not all the contractors can be this bad. There has to be another side to this. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are so called “Contractors” out there who will abandon jobs, lie on estimates or flat out take your money and run. There are also Contractors who will carelessly go over deadlines or take their good old time and disregard deadlines all together.
With that said there are a few ways to avoid these home Improvement Headache.
First things first, if it seems to good to be true then it probably is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out bid only because the other contractor stretched the truth a little on his estimate. This other contractors exaggeration could lead to extra time on your project and more importantly, extra money out of your pocket. I know, all the experts say “get at least three estimates” well I’m saying get more! I’m saying get at least five. Especially on all major remodeling projects. Look at it this way, a few more phone calls could save you thousands of dollars. And when you do get them, ask for them in writing. When you receive the estimates in writing be weary of estimates with little to no details. Not only will these steps give you a better idea of the price range, you’ll also be able to see the difference between good estimates and bad ones.
What do good estimates look like you ask? Well the most important difference is the details. The more the better. Another tip to look for in an estimate is phases. What I mean is, it’s better to have two or three phases in an estimate rather than everything all bundled in to one large quote. The way I look at it is, this gives you and your contractor simple goals. For instance if you are remodeling your basement with a bathroom I would recommend a framing & rough electrical and plumbing quote and then a drywall quote and finally a finishing quote or in other words flooring, painting, trim etc. Again, these phases will give you reasonable goals and will help you and your contractor feel as though you’re getting somewhere .
Another key way to avoid that headache is good communication. Keep in mind there is a difference between communicating and micro managing. Good communication is what it is. It’s making sure you’re on budget, deadlines are being met and asking questions without over analyzing minuet decisions. Micro Managing on the other hand shows a lack of trust. Look at it this way, when you’re at work do you enjoy being micro managed? Does it affect your production? My theory is, if you did the homework, got the five or more estimates, checked references and prepared a budget then you chose your contractor for a reason. He’s working for you but in the same breath let him work comfortably.
Last but not least have a budget outline. I would recommend having a budget and even a “back up budget”. This “back up budget” is for you, aimed at material and cosmetic details. For instance you may decide late in the game that you want the more expensive molding and not the generic molding. This upgrade may seem like no big deal at first but if you have a good amount of square footage involved then you are talking about a few hundred dollars more out of your pocket. Or maybe you changed your mind and you want a more expensive set of cabinets, flooring etc. You get the picture. You’d be surprised how many clients overlook these material upgrades. Especially in a larger remodeling project.
The bottom line is stay on track and in closing, I’ll steal one of my favorite quotes from “the untouchables” … “what are you prepared to do?” to avoid that Home Improvement headache. Best of luck.