Top Tips for Negotiating with Contractors

Contractor with homeowners

Everyone loves a deal, and this also applies to the cost of home improvement work. Quality work doesn't come cheap, but if you are smart about it, you should be able to settle on a fair price that both you and your contractor can appreciate. If you've decided to move forward with your home improvement plans, consider the following tips when choosing a contractor and negotiating the best possible deal.

A budget is your best bet

To provide a clear frame of reference for both yourself and your potential contractor, be sure to determine your budget in advance. You know better than anyone else how much you have to spend, and setting limits beforehand can help you prioritize what needs to be done, and negotiate costs within your comfort zone.

Exercise your flexibility

If you are flexible when it comes to the time frame for having work carried out on your home, you have a much better chance of getting a good deal. A good contractor probably won't be able to start working at the drop of a hat, so it pays to know the peak times for certain types of work…and avoid them! If you want to snag a good deal on interior projects, stick to the early months of the year (January through March) when this type of work is usually slow. The best prices for exterior work are usually to be had during the fall. In short, your patience can really pay off.

The devil is in the details

It can be very helpful to draw up a detailed project list for your contractor before obtaining an estimate. Be specific about the tasks that you'd like done, so you don't end up paying through the nose for more than work than anticipated. If your contractor feels that additional work is needed, they should let you know so that you can either nix the notion or agree to it negotiate any added costs.

Get several estimates

Always obtain estimates from three or more licensed contractors before deciding who to hire. When you consult a new contractor, show them previous estimates and ask if they are able to beat them. Remember to be fair when it comes to making offers or considering bids. Most contractors are hardworking folks who need to make a living, and deserve to be paid fairly for good work. Fortunately, however, many will come down in price (at least a little) if you take the time to ask politely.

Don't go too cheap

When considering bids, one which sharply undercuts the others may not always be the best. You usually get what you pay for, and this applies to home improvement work as well. A contractor's price should reflect the quality of their work while also making their services attractive to prospective clients.

Don't go too high

The highest bid isn't always your best option either. Just because one contractor charges more than another, does not mean that they are more qualified to do a great job than the competition. Instead, consider things such as reputation and previous customer satisfaction when it comes to choosing the contractor who's right for you.

Know the price of materials

You and your contractor may have different ideas about which materials to use and how much they should cost. To ensure that you get what you want at the price you want, visit a home improvement store to determine their average costs. This can mean anything from choosing your floor tile, to selecting light fixtures and getting a good idea of their general cost. If a contractor's materials estimate is higher than yours, you can use the information you've gathered to negotiate a lower price.Just remember that if you don't choose something, your contractor will, and you may not have the same ideas when it comes to dècor…or dollar signs.

Break things down

The more detailed estimate you draw up with your contractor, the better. Always be sure to obtain a detailed breakdown of the projected costs for everything from labor to materials to the gallons of coffee the contracting crew will consume on a daily basis. (Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the point.) Just getting an estimate isn't enough. Be sure that you actually take the time to read and understand it. You don't want to make the mistake of accusing someone of overcharging you when the details are clearly laid out in a contract that you didn't take the time to review thoroughly.

"Prepaid" is only for gift card and mobile phones

Think about it…when was the last time you paid for a nice dinner at your favorite restaurant before you got to eat it? Whatever you do, never pay up front for work that hasn't been completed yet. While the majority of people on the planet may be trustworthy, forking over cash before work begins provides the perfect opportunity for a dishonest contractor to take the money and run.

Posted by: Ahmed Muztaba
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