How to compare bids from multiple remodeling contractors

Be sure to compare bids before signing a remodeling contract. (Photo by Jennica Abrams)

Be sure to compare bids before signing a remodeling contract. (Photo by Jennica Abrams)

When it comes down to it, the most important thing to do when hiring a remodeling contractor is to check your instincts. How do you feel about this contractor working on what is probably your single largest investment, your home?

Do you trust this person inside your home and around your children? Can you communicate well with this person about the project? Are they ‘in tune’ to your needs? Are they an expert and experienced in the type of project you are envisioning? Don't throw away money on poor workmanship that will lower the value of your home and then cost more to be fixed.

Here are some important considerations before making a remodeling contractor hiring decision:

• Remodeling a home is not a product or a commodity – you don’t decide on the project you want done and, like a purchasing a TV or a car, go bargain shopping. A remodeling project will affects your family’s well-being, your home’s value and your hard-earned dollars.

• No two remodel contractors are the same.

• Every project is custom.

• You must thoroughly and accurately review each remodeling contractor’s proposal to get an understanding of what they are presenting a bid for.

• Your prospective remodeling contractor should be consulting and collaborating with you to create your project, not selling you on what they think should be done.

Ultimately, there are two ways a remodeling contractor can earn your business: He or she can try to provide the lowest price, or he or she can try to provide the best value.

The lowest price typically comes with a significant amount of risk. When a contractor submits an estimate with the lowest price, it can mean any of the following: no experience, low overhead (which can indicate the contractor lacks capital and needs a large down payment), no worker compensation insurance, no general liability insurance, no business license and no contractor’s registration. The more items on the above list that apply, the greater the risk to the homeowner.

The best value is typically achieved when the customer knows exactly what they are going to receive from a company that has a solid reputation built on years of experience with the type of project you are having done. They will supply a large reference list of previous customers in your area, require no more than a 1/3 down payment provide proof of insurance with a contact and phone number, proof of business license and a state contractor’s registration and EPA lead paint certification. They will also offer a warranty on their workmanship.

Matt Blank is the Marketing Department (yes, the whole thing!) for MBC Building & Remodeling in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. MBC Building & Remodeling has been serving Lancaster County, Pennsylvania since 1999. Matt also plays drums with the band The Slackwater News.

As of November 21, 2012, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

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