Choosing a Contractor

by Owen Sechrist

So it's time to get that home improvement or home repair project taken care do you choose a contractor? First of all, let's look at some of the advice floating around in the stratosphere on this subject... "Get three estimates, throw out the high and low."    --conventional "wisdom"    If you had to give Donald Trump a method of selecting a contractor in 10 words or less to keep from getting fired from The Apprentice this would probably be the way to go.  The biggest problem with this method is that even though it doesn't go with the lowest bid, usually a recipe for disaster, it is still a completely price driven method.  If you do decide to use this method, against my advice obviously, bump the number of estimates up to 5 and pick the guy in the middle, you'll get better results.

"The point of contention in negotiations between homeowners and bathroom contractors is project price. It is wise for individuals meeting with contractors to ask for hourly prices, supply needs, and other considerations as an initial quote is generated. Homeowners should be willing to walk away from negotiations, because there are plenty of contractors to interview before starting renovation projects."

  -- anonymous contributor   OK, I'm not very familiar with DirectoryM but it comes up really really high on Google searches.  Unfortunately whoever is writing their content, or more likely whoever is editing their content doesn't know the first thing about hiring a contractor.  If you insist on knowing your contractor's hourly rate for your bathroom remodel be prepared for all the legitimate remodeling companies to walk.  Companies that do fixed price contracts for remodeling follow a simple, if difficult to actually calculate, formula: add up the total costs for your project, add markup to cover overhead and company profit.  All (real) companies do this same basic thing, though there may be some variations, such as putting most of the markup on labor, or having a lower overhead by accounting for some typical overhead items as job costs (i.e. "job supervision").  The point is, and hourly rate is basically irrelevant.  Here is an example:  You decide you want a $5000 computerized body spray system installed in your shower.  If we break it, we are out $5000 bucks on your job.  We need to get markup on labor AND materials to mitigate risk. On a more positive note, instead of me rehashing what multitudes of intelligent people have said, here is a good article on how to choose a contractor: Good Article on Hiring a Contractor Now that you've perused that, I'll add one more thought:   Your number one priority for choosing a remodeling contractor should be: Do you like them?  What is the role of the person who came to the initial sales call?  Can you meet the person who would actually be running your project before you make a decision?  I'm not proposing that you need to delve too far or get too personal, but whoever is running your remodel project is going to be on a first name basis with you for weeks, maybe even months.  You may have conversations with them on a daily basis, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day.  Feel like doing that in a high stress situation with someone you don't like?

Written by Owen Sechrist

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