(. . . continued from Part 5)
Which contractor am I most comfortable with . . .
If a new potential bidder shows up later to ask if they can bid on the project, remember all of the research and other homework you did to get this far, and tell them graciously, “Not on this project. Maybe next time.” You don’t want to sabotage your initial efforts, or have to ‘go back to the drawing board,’ literally.
Don’t ask a contractor to breakdown his/her pricing into all of the components so that you can pick and choose. It’s degrading and presumptive. It sets up for a very poor relationship and makes the selected contractor wonder what else you’ll question. If you don’t trust this person, just don’t hire them. If you do, then give them the assurance that you know they can handle the job. If you’re into micro-management, maybe you just wasted a lot of your own time and many other peoples’ time and should have just gotten into the remodel business yourself. Remember that you started this whole qualifying process so that you could find a competent contractor to do the work, not so that you could hire an ‘employee.’ The contractor is taking a lot of responsibility and a lot of risk for doing your project, and needs to know that you trust them. If you’ve done your homework well, then all of your bidders should be more than capable of doing the work and you should feel you can trust all of them. Then, you should just relax and enjoy the process.
If you have worked with a remodel contractor to come up with the design and budget then you already know the price from that contractor. But, if not, and if you haven’t worked through establishing a budget with a contractor, then don’t be concerned that the contractor needs to know your expected budget – it gives him/her an immediate sense of how much remodel work you have purchased in the past, and/or of what level of quality of products and materials you want in the project. By knowing the budget that you anticipate spending on the project the contractor can help you make good decisions on what you can include for that amount, or on whether a ‘phased’ remodel is best for your needs. The budget you are willing to spend is really a matter of determining your priorities; if you want something badly enough you simply adjust for it. We’ve all heard of the “champagne tastes on a beer budget.” If you are new to remodeling the contractor should know this also. It’s better for us to know up front than to find out too late, although it’s probably going to be apparent by how you go about the process of finding a contractor and how developed the bid documents are when you make initial contact. That’s okay – everything was a ‘first time’ once. We can better help you to have a positive experience during the remodel if we know about your previous experience.
Please remember that the contractor has a life apart from your project and keep unnecessary notes until he/she is back on the job – that is, after weekends and such.
Another thing to consider a reasonable request from the contractors is to know who the other bidders are and how you found them. It should not be a secret, and will probably afford you better service and maybe better pricing. Think of it like buying shoes: you can go to a number of stores and compare prices, quality, service, location, etcetera to help you make a good buying decision. If you operate a shoe store you can easily check on your competition. Now, think about the fact that if one contractor has no idea who he’s bidding against, or how you found the others, the pricing may well climb upward as there is no way to compare what each contractor in a community is doing to run his/her business. Often a contractor may not know that he needs to re-think how he prices, or re-think his systems to get his pricing down. And, sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring out that he/she is in the wrong market and needs to re-think what they do in the industry. There are some projects that I won’t do as they are not a good fit for me, and to take them on would not benefit the client. It is also a helpful flag to know the bids – as to whether the contractor has grossly missed something, or grossly miscalculated something. Even the best spreadsheets have the possibility of human error in there somewhere. Wouldn’t all of this ultimately benefit you? This is the only way that contractors have to gauge themselves in the marketplace.
Another thing about sharing this knowledge is that the contractors will usually know if others are even interested in the project, or if other contractors even think you are a good fit for their expertise, abilities and how they’ve positioned their companies in the market, and if they want to spend the time developing a relationship with you through the course of your project. Some contractors price things high if they think working with you might be more of a challenge than they want to take on at the moment, or if their resources are already spread a bit too thin, or if they perceive some difficulties trying to get the project completed. These contractors may not tell you why they have priced things high, but know that if they get the project they are thinking it needs to be worth their while enough to overcome any perceived issues.
Remember, you either trust or don’t trust this person. If you don’t trust them, take them out of your consideration for the job and for any bidding you may be asking for.
Don’t forget that when you meet with a contractor you are not the only one conducting an interview. A contractor that has assessed his product and service, his best fit for a client, his schedule, and a number of other factors, is also interviewing you to see if you would be a ‘good fit’ for his/her company to work with. This is, after all, a service industry and it is up to both parties to any agreement (or contract) to agree that the relationship would be mutually beneficial.
There will be at least one contractor that you will be able to work well with, so don’t get discouraged if the first one you research is not the one that is best for your remodel.
Now, ask yourself . . .
Which contractor am I most comfortable with, and would be the best fit for me and my family?
If that contractor has a higher bid than your budget allows, negotiate with them for a modified remodel that is within your budget, or do it in phases a bit at a time. This is where the collaborative efforts early on are helpful. You can avoid the entire bidding process altogether.