I was at Safeway the other day and picked up a copy of “Kitchen Remodeling for Dummies.” I have to say, I was curious to read the advice the publication was offering. Not surprisingly it advocated getting three bids. “Be sure that all three contractors work from the same materials and labor list. You want to compare apples to apples.”
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 the same thing. Second, it assumes that you have confidence that the contractors will stick to their “estimates”. Third, it assumes that price is the most important factor in selecting your contractor.
So here’s how the scenario works. You invite three contractors to your home to get estimates on remodeling your kitchen. You have an idea of what you want or even a sketch. Each contractor will have different ideas and bid the project accordingly. Everything from the cabinet layout to the countertop to the brand of faucet may vary, if they are planned for at all. How then do you “compare apples to apples” with any level of confidence?
Three bids only give the illusion of providing a thorough comparison. Without drawings and specifications it is impossible to know what is included in the project. 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.
I encourage you to interview multiple contractors and call their references. Make your choice based on comfort level, experience, and reputation rather than nebulous bids. Work in partnership with your qualified design/build company to develop a design and project that meets your needs and your budget.