7 ways to negotiate lower contractor costs
A major home improvement project can leave a dent in your savings account, but you can reduce this cost by negotiating the contract price and terms.
If you're looking for ways to cut the price, consider the following seven helpful negotiation tips to reduce your financial burden without compromising the quality of your project:
1. Shop around
It's difficult to tell whether or not you are getting a good deal on your home improvement project if you don't have something to compare it to. That's why it's always a good idea to get at least three comparable bids or estimates for a project.
Many contractors are willing to lower their cost or negotiate particular contract terms if they're competing for the work. For example, in a recent Angie's List poll, more than 80 percent of contractors indicated they were willing to drop their prices to get a job.
However, make sure you provide each contractor with as many project details as possible, and thoroughly read each estimate to make sure you're making apples-to-apples comparisons.
2. Do your research
It's always a good idea to verify a contractor's experience and credentials before making any hiring decision. If you're comfortable working with a less experienced contractor with less time in the trade, you may be able to secure a lower price.
You can also put yourself in a better bargaining position by researching the costs of materials that will be used on the project. Having a material cost list will help indicate whether or not the contractor is charging more than necessary for the supply portion of the project.
3. Purchase your own supplies
Most contractors offer to purchase the supplies needed for the project and include their cost in the estimate, or bill you for them later. This contractor usually gets all the supplies from one supplier, which means that he or she probably isn't shopping around for the best price.
To save yourself a little money, offer to buy the supplies on your own to ensure the best deal on the supplies you need for the project. However, be sure to double-check the needed quantities with your contractor and ensure that you'll have enough material to finish the work and not cause project delays.
4. Consider the timing
As a general rule, the cost of your home improvement project will depend partially on the season in which the project is executed. You may be able to save money by seeking estimates during a time where construction work is generally slower and contractors will be more willing to negotiate costs with you.
If you live in a colder climate and you want a room addition, for example, consider calling contractors for estimates in the winter. Although the work may not be able to commence until warmer temperatures, you may be able to negotiate a lower cost while business is slow for the contractor.
5. Avoid overexposure
When negotiating contract costs, keep your cards close to your chest. You may not necessarily want the contractor to know your entire situation, since particular details may contribute to their willingness to negotiate price. Reveal only the details about the work you need done and let the contractor do the talking.
6. Offer payment alternatives
If you and the contractor are comfortable with the prospect, offer to pay subcontractors or material supplies directly rather than through the contractor.
This may save you money with the contractor because they won't have to deal with the cost outlays or paperwork. You may also be able to negotiate reduced costs with the subcontractors or material suppliers as well.
7. Treat the contractor as an ally
When you approach the pricing situation as if the contractor is against you, this will reflect negatively on your relationship. Instead, treat the contractor as your ally in finding a lower price for your home improvement project.
Show him or her that you respect their professional authority by asking for any changes you could make to the project to help save money. This can include things like switching to a cheaper countertop material or flooring type.
The first step to getting better costs on home improvement projects is finding quality contractors. Join Angie's List to find trusted, verified reviews on home improvement contractors and other professionals written by consumers like you.
In the Chicagoland area, you'll find reviews and business information on more than 1,400 Chicago contractors that can help you complete your next home improvement project.