COMPARE “APPLES TO APPLES”
In most kitchen, bathroom, or basement estimates, it’s easy to find the total estimated cost at the bottom of the last page. But, understanding your remodel’s total value – from design to build to enjoyment – isn’t always clear.
You’re compelled to compare “apples to apples” in your estimates to contract with the right company for the right experience at the right price.
TAKE PRELIMINARY STEPS
Follow this path as you start the estimate process.
DO YOUR RESEARCH>
Determine What’s Important>
Research every remodeler you’ll meet: browse their website, look at project photos, and read reviews. Gain insight on their systems and approaches.
Communicate your needs and wants with the remodelers; and listen to their suggestions – they might offer innovative ideas and solutions.
Ask questions and be open to feedback. Also, consider whether flexibility on both sides is achievable.
LOOK AT THE DETAILS
Consider this scenario:
- Susan and Doug, homeowners in Howard County, met with three prospective remodelers for their kitchen remodel and received their estimates.
- One Tuesday night after dinner with their teenagers, they set out a few beverages and snacks (always a good idea) and began their review.
- First, they looked at every company’s design ideas and renderings. Two companies provided complete designs; one provided general ideas and a simple sketch.
- Next, they evaluated the estimates’ material allowances. One contractor included budget-friendly cash allowances; the others rolled in labor costs with every material, which suggested their materials might be lower quality.
- While scanning the allowances, Doug and Susan also made sure all flooring, appliances, paint, and other items were included. They didn’t want – and hadn’t budgeted for – major surprise fees during their kitchen renovation.
- Then, the homeowners determined that two contractors would help with selections, but one of those assisted only via email and phone calls. Doug and Susan were concerned about making major decisions and visiting vendor showrooms on their own.
- As they neared the end of their review, they looked at the team structure of every contractor. Two of the contractors use subcontractors and one has an in-house team and sub-contractors for specialty work, including electrical and plumbing.
- Finally, Susan and Doug thought about every remodelers’ time table and project management. One contractor offered a reasonable project timeframe and would remain on site until completion. This remodeler also had a team member who will manage all materials and deliveries for their project.
CALCULATE THE BEST TOTAL VALUE
Consider these statements:
- A lower total cost is enticing
- Estimates that list labor plus materials and fit a reasonable budget seem like a great option
- Newer remodelers offer lower costs to earn new clients
But, before you pull the trigger, make sure your most valuable estimate offers transparency and itemization; addresses labor, materials, trade work, and scheduling; and details fair and realistic pricing offered by a trustworthy remodeler.
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