Gathering prices from different contractors is one of the most stressful parts of any home remodeling project. You want quality materials and workmanship, a fair price, and to make sure your contractor is legit.
Knowing the differences between contractor bids is an important part of any remodeling project. Especially, when the prices vary largely between each quote.
This is something we hear almost every day at Custom Built. Our clients come to us saying they have received another quote, for the same project, with a completely different price. This is common and we want to shed light on it.
In this article, you will learn how to compare contractor quotes and gauge if a contractor’s remodeling price is realistic for your project.
How to compare different quotes
1. Set Price vs. Price Range Quotes
Due to the nature of the home remodeling business, every project designed and built is custom. There is no single price that can be given before ironing out every detail of a project.
A price range is a much more realistic way of giving homeowners a reasonable expectation for how much a project will cost than saying that a project will cost X dollars.
Once the details (materials, layout, and size) of a project are decided on, then a final price can be determined. But until then, giving a set price is unrealistic if you want a custom-designed finished product.
2. Material Allowances vs. Specific Materials
If you receive a project quote that is much less, it might be possible that a contractor is leaving things out until you receive the final bill. A common thing you may come across in quotes is called material allowances.
Material allowances are often found in contractor bids. An example would be a contractor allocating $1,000 for cabinets for your project. We have found that material allocations typically only cover low-grade materials.
The specific cabinets you want may cost $3,000. In the price the contractor gave you, they never accounted for the higher price of the specific materials you desired.
If you choose to go with the higher-priced cabinets, the price you pay for the project will now be $2,000 higher than what the contractor said it would be.
3. Does the price include designing the project?
A vital piece of the remodeling process is designing the exact layout of the remodel. This determines the plans and measurements that builders will use to build your remodel.
Designing a space is done either by yourself, collaboratively done with an external designer, or architect, or through a contractor’s in-house design team.
This design process creates the building plans and exact measurements, selects products for the remodel, and shows very specific detail of what goes where.
For any home remodeling project, this step cannot be bypassed. Whether you are DIYing a home remodel or having a contractor do the building for you, having set plans in place will be required.
When reviewing the price a contractor provides for a remodel, it will be crucial to know if the design process of your remodel is included in the price. If it is not included in a contractor’s bid, you will need to know how much is added to see the true cost.
4. Warranties Included
Not every remodeling contractor offers the same warranty. When selecting a home remodeling contractor, this is important to know and it is best practice to ask them what their warranty policy is before signing any contract or agreement.
Some may offer a multi-year or lifetime warranty on workmanship. Others offer a shorter warranty or no warranty at all.
This will be a determining factor in the overall price that can be used to compare different quotes from contractors.
5. Will you see a visual representation of the home renovation project before construction?
If you are a visual person like me, you like to see what something is going to look like before committing to it. Before making any large purchase, like a car, for example, you want to see what it looks like before purchasing it.
The same goes for a home remodel. It is one thing to have an idea in your mind about what a home remodel is going to look like when completed, and another to see a 3D design concept of the completed project so everyone involved is on the same page.
A 3D rendering of a home remodel is a massive benefit to have during the design process. It allows you to sign off on every element of the remodel before any construction begins.
You can change measurements, product selections, colors, fixtures, flooring options, and room layouts with 3D design rendering software.
It also gives you an accurate expectation of what the finished product is going to look like.
Not every contractor offers this service as part of their design process and if you are a visual person, it helps to know if a 3D design service is included in the price. If it isn’t, finding a contractor that offers this service included in the price will be good for you.
6. Are the contractor and their subcontractors licensed and insured?
Anytime a business has to be code compliant with the government and have their work inspected before completing it, you want to make sure they have the proper certifications and are insured.
In the trades industries, some companies operate without proper certifications and insurance. When receiving a bid for a home remodel from a contractor, find out if they have certifications and proof of insurance.
Additionally, find out if their subcontractors have their required certifications and proof of insurance.
When entering into a construction contract with a contractor, make sure your contractor has their subcontractors sign a Lien Waiver.
A lien waiver is a signed receipt of payment that states, that a contractor has paid the subcontractor for services rendered, and prevents a subcontractor from placing a lien on your property.
In the event a subcontractor has not signed a lien waiver and is not paid by the general contractor, they may legally place a lien on your home to receive payment for the services they provided.
8. Inspections and Permits
In the price a contractor gives you, do they take inspections and permits into account? These costs vary between locations and are required by law depending on the scope of your project.
Permits and inspections are not free, and someone has to pay for them.
When you receive a price from a contractor, ask if these inspections and permits are included.
Moving forward with a contractor’s quote
You came here because you have received different quotes from contractors. Now you know how to compare quotes, understand what the quoted price reflects, and if the price is realistic for your project.
As a full-service design and remodeling company, we want to give you complete information so you make the best decision for your home remodeling project.
Michael brings over 2 decades of building and remodeling experience to his position as the Owner and Visionary of Custom Built. Michael’s passion to make an impact on the home building industry has led him to serve for over ten years at the local and state Home Builders Association, culminating as President of the HBA of Michigan in 2020.