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Hiring a Contractor for a Home Improvement Project? Going Cheap Might Be Costly

It’s an old joke that you’ve likely heard before: An astronaut strapping himself into a spaceship preparing to blast off for the stars, pauses and thinks to himself: “I’m about to trust my life to this piece of government equipment built by the lowest bidder!”

In a way, though, many homeowners face a very similar situation everyday. They “strap themselves into” a home improvement project which they’ve entrusted to the lowest-bidding contractor. And the results are frequently less than stellar.

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Why Higher Bids can be Better Bids

If you’re soliciting bids for a home improvement project, you’re likely to receive bids that cover quite a range, from low to high. It’s a natural reaction to focus upon the lower bids. But that might be a bad move.

Here’s why:

Calculating the likely costs of a home improvement project is a rather inexact science. That’s because virtually every project presents homeowners and contractors with some unknowns that add unanticipated costs to the project total.

Experienced contractors know this to be true. And they’ll present you with a bid that allows for the inevitable unknowns. So while an experienced contractor’s initial bid may be higher, odds are extremely good that the final cost of the project will more closely match the bid amount.

And if you choose one of the lowest bidders for your project? Prepare yourself for the prospect of substantial cost overruns.

One Other Consideration About Low Bids…

Why would one contractor submit a bid that’s substantially lower than that submitted by another contractor? It’s almost certainly for one of three reasons:

  1. The contractor is not being straightforward about the expected total costs of the project, and the lowball offer is just to hook you
  2. The contractor is very inexperienced, and does not realize the likelihood of unanticipated costs
  3. The contractor simply works cheaper than other contractors

Numbers 1 and 2 are certainly not attractive. And you might want to think long and hard about selecting a contractor that undervalues his services. There’s probably a reason for that.

Selecting a contractor for your home improvement project doesn’t carry quite the same ramifications as strapping yourself in for a ride to outer space. But a home improvement project gone bad, with costs run amuck, might have you wishing you could escape to outer space! That’s why selecting spaceship builders and home improvement contractors are both weighty decisions.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 at 4:01 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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