Cash in on contractors’ willingness to negotiate

Cash in on contractors’ willingness to negotiate

Home improvement is in full swing and contractors around the country are telling Angie’s List they’re still willing to negotiate prices to win jobs from homeowners planning to repair or improve their homes.

In January, 80 percent of the contractors responding to an Angie’s List survey said they were willing to drop their prices to get a job. In 2009, only 43 percent were willing to drop their prices.

In a May Angie’s List survey, a majority of the surveyed contractors said business was steady or increasing. Still, 81 percent were willing to drop prices to get work. Nearly 30 percent of the contractors were willing to trim 10 percent from their original bid.

Not only are contractors still willing to negotiate, but many are expecting to. Consumers are getting used to bargain hunting and nearly half of the contractors responding to the poll say they expect homeowners to ask for price cuts from the original bids. Don’t wait on those projects you’ve been putting off — use contractors’ willingness to negotiate to help you check off items on your to-do list at a better price.

When it comes to down payments, most companies will ask for one but there is room to negotiate there as well. In a June survey, contractors said that 30 percent or more is the normal asking price but 79 percent of respondents said that was open to discussion.
However, it’s important to remember not to hire on price alone. Before you jump straight to bargaining over price, do your homework and make sure the company meets your standards.

Before you hire, follow these five tips to ensure you’re making the right decision:

  1. Slam the door on door-to-door solicitors, those who accept only cash payments or pressure you to make a quick decision.
  2. Verify the company you hire is licensed to operate in your area.
  3. Ask for several references from happy customers who’ve had worked completed. Visit the job sites if possible to see how the work held up.
  4. Never sign a contract with blank spaces, and understand every word of it. It should spell out expectations, responsibilities, time lines and what happens if something goes wrong.
  5. Get at least three written estimates that you can compare as you decide who to hire.


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Leave a Comment - 10




I have to question your advise of asking for a discount on a contract price? Would asking for a discount compromise the quality of the products that are being used on a job to make up for the dollar loss? As indicated, price is not the only factor. Quality and dependability should be high on the list as well. If the contractor has come hightly recommended and meets all my criteria, I would not want to insult them. 3rd We sat with our contractor and went over the specifics to see if we could cut the want list to agree on a price that we were comfortable with and stil have the quality of project we wanted. The contractor was very helpful and we were very happy with the outcome.

Joan Baron


How about some tips on how to negotiate? And what % off without being offensive?

Diana Foley


I agree with Ms. Rebb. Especially in these difficult economic times, a smart contractor should take the opportunity to knock on a few doors in a neighborhood they are working in to off-set the expenses incurred to go out and give free estimates.

Doug Thompson


Negotiating is not just about beating down the price. That's called "dinckering." (Take out the first "n" which is used to get past stupid filters.) One way to lower the price of a job is for the homeowner to assume part of the risk by using a Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) or a Time and Materials (T&M) contract. Or, be prepared to pare down the tasking to something that will fit in your budget. Remember, price is only one part, albeit an important part, of the total package. Do your research as is suggested all over this site. An informed consumer is harder to dupe.

Pat Rebb


Slamming your door on a "door-to-door" solicitor is not always the best. The contractor may be doing work for a neighbor. Letting the neighbors know is a great marketing strategy. Take his/her information and ask your neighbor what they think.

Francis Dabarera


Hi, Thank you for excellent advice. I wish, I knew this advice few weeks earlier, I may saved $2500



I wish I would have read this before I hired McAvoy and Son to paint my house. They turned out to be some shady contractors.



don't hire a man named lynville lovely, really bad experience with him.

Gus Hanson


The other thing many home owners don't understand is that insurance rules allow for you to pick the contractor you go with but you can't keep any extra money over the high bid or allowance of RCV (which means Replacement Cost Value). Keeping that money would be prosecutable fraud. A contractor can, on a separate agreement give a promotional fee for such as a yard sign or photos and testimonials if awarded the job.

Gus Hanson


The safest way to be sure not to lose a down payment is to make it on a credit card. The 30 days for fraud protection on the card is considered from the date of not showing up as planned, so if they say they can't get custom product in for 2 months, you are still protected.
As to price shopping, there is a huge difference between low initial cost and least expensive over time as there are huge differences in building product and the small print in their warranties reveals what the manufacturer will stand behind. With the housing market leaving people stuck with the house they have they should be thinking of high quality long warranted products to be the least expensive in the long run.

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