Starting any kind of home improvement project can be stressful, but if you do your homework and get three bids, you are more likely to choose the best contractor for you. Today we find out why it’s important to take the time to get those three bids.
Whether you are starting a home improvement project with your kitchen, bathroom or your roof, it is important to be thoroughly educated before making your hiring decision. Some of these projects can cost in the thousands and you don’t want to get stuck with a team with whom you can’t get along.
Getting three bids is an uphill battle. How do I know? Because 30 percent of respondents to a recent Angie’s List poll admitted that they didn’t fully read their contract before they hired their contractor . If you’re not reading the contract, chances are you’re not doing the preliminary work either – and both are incredibly important to getting your project done well, done on time and at a fair price.
Angie Hicks says, “For the last 17 years I’ve talked a ton to consumers about the importance about getting three estimates when thinking about a remodel job. I know it takes a lot of work and a lot of effort, but I’m going to tell you why it’s really important."
Angie’s tips on why you should get three or more bids:
- Feel comfortable: Depending on the type of project, contractors could be in and out of your house quite often – you need to feel comfortable with them.
- Communication is key: You need to be able to communicate with your contractor easily. If something isn’t going right, speak up early in the project. If you’re dealing with problems early on and don’t address them, you’re probably not going to be happy with the finished product. If your contractor isn’t responsive to your wishes, it’s easier to cut ties early. The longer you wait, the more difficult it could be to move on.
- Are you on the same page? You should choose a contractor that collaborates with you throughout your project. You have to live with this, so make sure it’s something you like as well.
- Keeping in touch: Many members complained that after the initial estimate they could not get ahold of the contractor by phone or email in order to get further information or to even talk about doing the job.
- Weed out the bad: If you find one bid is a lot lower than the others, it could be an indicator of an outlier and the quality of that contractor’s work might not be up to your standards. That’s another reason it’s important to get three bids.
When getting bids from contractors, it’s important to get as much detail in writing as possible. Things like how payment is going to be handled, how long the job is going to take, what’s going to happen if there are delays on the project and you want to be sure that it lists out actual items that are going to be used in the project so you can get a real good apples to apples comparison. What make and model and brand of refrigerator is going to be used in your kitchen remodel.
We asked homeowner Catherine Duff about her process for choosing a contractor and Catherine said, "“I got three bids because I grew up with a father who was in the insurance industry and he was always getting bids on repair of automobiles when he was young and an adjuster. And he kind of drilled it into us that it’s really important to shop around and make a decision based on the pros and cons and not a gut feeling and to kind of do your due diligence.”
Catherine continues, "So, we scheduled the three visits. They eventually all came. The two that I did not choose, like I said, they were not thrilled about that I wasn’t going to make a decision on the spot. That’s what they wanted. They had a contract ready to sign. They took a very cursory look at what we wanted without really discussing design or architecture or what we were going for in the house, and I just didn’t feel comfortable with either of them."
"But the third was willing to do everything that I asked, and happily. He offered me, actually two contracts. One about 10 pages long – legalese, and then a one-page contract. And we chose to go with the one-page contract because we, at that point, felt comfortable with him, but we still did delineate all the points that we wanted to make sure we agreed on. Start date, end date, total cost, what materials we would purchase, what his labor price would be, that he would clean up every evening when he left, that he would have a crew working with him, that they would all be identifiable, that I could call his references, BBB, check on Angie’s List. So between all that he just felt like the right person,” Catherine affirms.
“Actually the bids were quite comparable. I kind of expected there would be more of a range, and I did not choose the lowest bidder. I’ve always been one of those people who, right before I cross a bridge, I think, “You know this was built by the lowest bidder.” And …I would rather be crossing a bridge that was maybe built by the highest bidder or the next