Get three bids before hiring a contractor
Barbara Boca consults with National Air Duct Cleaning of St. Louis to find out how much it will cost to get her air ducts cleaned. Multiple bids can help you find an accurate price range for the job. (Photo by Jennica Abrams)
When I get asked about hiring, I always recommend soliciting at least three bids. But I know how difficult it can be to get one bid, let alone three. Your time is valuable and in most cases, you just want to get the job done. I get it. But making a decision based on just one or two price points could actually cost you more time and money down the road.
Whether you’re planning a big remodel or just want to get your gutters cleaned every few months, you have to arm yourself with enough knowledge to make an educated hiring decision. If you only talk to one contractor, how will you know if you’re getting the best deal?
• The project, including who is responsible for each aspect of the job
• The start and completion dates
• Payment terms
• Cost of labor and materials
• Cost for permits to be pulled
• Proof of licensure, worker’s compensation, liability insurance and bonding, if necessary
In a recent Angie’s List online poll, more than 30 percent of members admitted to soliciting fewer than three bids for their last home remodeling project. In many cases when I hear from members who are upset because they’ve been overcharged, the homeowners could have avoided the bad outcome if they would have seen multiple bids before starting the project.
I remember one review where a homeowner told us he saved $8,000 by getting three quotes to repair his air conditioner. The first contractor advised replacing the entire unit. After talking to two more, the member was pleased to find out he only needed to replace one part that wound up costing less than $300. Tell me the extra time it took to call a couple more contractors and schedule more appointments wasn’t worth that amount of savings!
By soliciting at least three bids, you’ll get an idea of the general price range and identify the outliers. Then, using price as one consideration, you can select your contractor based on other factors such as communication, creativity and flexibility.
After all, you’re going to be interacting with this contractor (and their crew) a lot during the course of your project. I promise that having a respectful, punctual contractor is just as important as price — especially when they’re practically living with you during a big remodel.
Don’t forget, the goal when taking the time to get three estimates is a high-quality project completed at a fair price. That’s a return well worth your time.