Traditional wisdom recommends soliciting three or more bids for any given project to provide a basis for comparison. But how do you evaluate bids after you collect them? Most of us skip automatically to the “bottom line”—the bid price. As we all know, however, the lowest bid doesn’t always equate to the most satisfactory results. Here’s how to ensure a good fit with your home remodeling contractor in Atlanta.
Price Isn’t Everything
Before you judge a contract based on its price, read the details. It may seem like extra work to examine your contract line by line, but outlier bids that are extremely low are likely hiding something, either intentionally or unintentionally. A contract that’s markedly lower than others, for instance, may be lumping material costs (e.g. “kitchen lights” vs. “pendants 1 and 2, 10 ft of under-cabinet LED lights, 8 ceiling recessed can lights, etc.) or else estimating based on lower-quality materials. Discard contracts that gloss over line items or low-ball material costs.
Keep in mind that price discrepancies can come in other areas besides materials. For instance, all the materials may be meticulously detailed, but is the description of the scope of work to be completed just as thorough? Pay attention to minor details like if the contractor will pay for waste disposal for old materials. Ask your contractor to place in writing all the services included in their bid, and be sure to compare bids to make sure you’re not overlooking something.
If the materials and work sections of your remaining contracts are presented in a detailed, clear, and easy-to-follow manner, and if there’s still a large price discrepancy between bid prices, it’s time to start asking each potential home remodeling contractor in Atlanta these questions:
Are you licensed and insured? Do you have workman’s compensation? How long have you been working in the industry? Do you have a physical location? Have you worked on projects similar to mine? May I see your portfolio work on these jobs? Will you handle obtaining permits, checking zoning restrictions, etc.? How did you estimate the cost of this bid? How did you estimate the timeline for this bid? Do you work with an entirely internal team, or do you hire subcontractors? If you work with subcontractors, what measures do you take to ensure quality work? Can I visit the jobsite of current projects you’re working on? What are your communication practices with your clients? Is your work warrantied? If so, for how long and under which terms?
Contact Your Contractor’s Clients
Of course, the very best way to get a sense of whether you’ll be satisfied with a perspective contractor is to speak with their previous clients. You can quickly vet contractors by checking their website testimonials, but since these are solicited and curated, you’ll also want to check Houzz reviews, Facebook reviews, etc.
If you’re able to speak with previous clients over the phone or even visit current job sites, you’ll have an even more realistic understanding of what working with a certain contractor will be like. References from recent clients will help you not only gain a sense of a contractor’s integrity but also of their personality, communication practices, etc. If you thoroughly investigate each of these areas, you can feel comfortable and confident moving forward with the bid of your choice.