I’ve been a contractor for over 25 years, and have always done my best to reflect honesty, integrity, transparency, and full disclosure in every home remodeling project.
The success of each remodeling project we take on - and thus, our business - hinges on our ability to truly listen to our client’s needs and do everything we can to work within their budget. We design our projects accordingly and assist our clients in choosing the elements that go into their home up front to avoid cost overruns.
Unfortunately, when consumers interview and ultimately hire a contractor for their home improvements, it’s not always a level playing field.
Here are some common tactics to watch out for when choosing a home remodeling contractor:
Contractor has you sign a “design retainer” wherein you’re obligated to pay substantial upfront costs. Typically the agreement states that the contractor estimates construction cost between X and Y. Not only are you paying for an estimate, there’s also no guarantee the contractor will ultimately build your project for the “estimated” price range.
Contractor and homeowner enter into a contract wherein allowances are called out. Later on, however, you find out the allowances do not cover the caliber of fixtures and finishes desired. Then the infamous change order comes. You’re now faced with the choice substandard fixtures and finishes or approving an expensive change order.
Contractor submits an estimate that is significantly lower than other bidders. After selecting the low-bidding contractor, you’re hit with multiple change orders for nearly every request. Some contractors knowingly undercut their competition with low bids and try to make up the shortfall through change orders.
Contractor will accelerate markup costs on change orders and other requests. Sometimes the profit margin is 100% or more over actual cost. For example, you’re charged $1,000+ for something that costs $500.
In Part 2, we’ll outline steps to choosing the right contractor for your project and how to enter into a contract so the end result is a successful, cost effective home remodel.