I’ve just gotten three estimates on a rather large remodeling project. Two of the estimates are higher, and one is quite a bit lower. The low guy seems honest and sincere, but should I be wary of a price that seems too good to be true?
Your instincts are correct, in today’s world if a deal seems too good to be true, it usually–no change that to ALWAYS–is. Theft by contractor is all over the news these days, so I am sure you are not the only buyer who is concerned. When a contractor is in trouble, your first clue will be low price. At that point they are scrambling for cash, and the only way to get it is to buy some jobs-quick. They think that if they can just get a few deposits in the door, they can get out of their mess. They will worry about building them later. What better way to attract business than to have an unbelievable low price right? Unfortunately many people fall for it – and fall they do, right down the legal abyss with the contractor.
As I have said time and time again in these columns, when you shop, you must look past price alone when it comes to the home building & remodeling industry. You really do get only what you pay for. Too often people compare contractors like they are shopping for a refrigerator – just find the lowest price and go for it. But consider this – when you shop for a name brand product, you are comparing the exact same product, manufacturer, warranty, Etc. I wish it could be that easy with construction. So how can you compare contractors, or any other service businesses then you ask? Well, I am about to tell you, and you may not like the answer – IT TAKES WORK! You must educate yourself, do some research, pound the pavement so to speak. It can be difficult though, because you must investigate things that are intangible-you can’t see and touch service.
You must check references, call the Registrar, call NARI and ask their status, go see their office or showroom, go look at a job in progress, ask to meet the owners, review their contract thoroughly, check out the background and history of the company, ask who their suppliers and sub-contractors are, on and on. Many Contractors will supply you with this information before you even ask, which shows that they know that these things are important to educated remodeling shoppers.
However, to become a legitimate and licensed professional contractor who can disclose all this information openly costs money. If you want a professional contractor who provides quality product, service, and timely performance, you will pay more. If you want cheap price, you will end up paying in other ways such as aggravation, headaches, and lawsuits (and possibly divorce). If I sound a bit sensitive on this subject it’s because I am hearing too often about people getting ripped off by contractors. In my opinion, most of the victims would have never been ripped off if they would have done some research. This may sound harsh, but it is true. After all, it’s your money, isn’t is your responsibility to make sure that you don’t get ripped off? Do the research, check out your contractor so you don’t get ripped off!
Answered by: Patrick Benkowski, CR
President – Roadrunner Custom Remodeling Inc.