Some people think selecting a remodeling contractor is the easy part…just get three bids and pick the lowest, right?
This is a good concept in theory, but there are a few significant problems with it. First, it assumes that you have enough information about the project to be sure that all three contractors are quoting exactly the same thing. Second, it assumes that you have confidence that the contractors will stick to their “estimates.” Third, it assumes that you have made your final selections. A comparison of cost on selections that will not ultimately be installed in your home opens the door to price changes and variations later on. Fourth, it assumes that price is the most important factor in selecting your contractor.
Instead of “getting bids,” I encourage you to interview contractors. Ask for a minimum of seven references and follow up with at least a couple by asking the homeowners open ended questions on subjects such as timely completion, cleanliness, cost control, sensitivity to pets, security, and communication.
No matter how you hear about a contractor, be sure to check that he is a member of The National Association of the Remodeling Industry at nari.org and go to ccb.state.or.us to see that his license is current and complaint free. Only consider contractors with an established business in your area.
The level of quality and service from one contractor to the next can vary widely. Make your choice based on comfort level, experience, and reputation. Work in partnership to develop a design and finished product that meets your needs and your budget.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard horror stories of a homeowner finding out that the final project cost did not even remotely reflect the original bid, even though price had been the homeowner’s deciding factor in choosing a contractor. Do your homework to insure that your decision making process reflects your values. With a little research you’ll quickly glean a contractor who is the best fit for you.