We all want the best work done for the best price on our homes or businesses. So how do you do this?
First off, don’t be shy in going about the process. A good contractor’s not insulted when you try to get the best work for the most reasonable price. He or she isn't insulted because it's something that a contractor does with his or her suppliers.
The next thing is only use contractors who call you back on your phone message within two business days ( And please do leave a message, the contractors you call are working not waiting by the phone) It’s a sign that they lack organization when they call you back any later than this.
When you meet the contractor, be friendly and treat them with the respect that you would want. I know of contractors who will jack up prices if they are asked to enter through the servant's door for those of you who have one. Good contractors can do this because the biggest problem they have is not having enough hours in the day to do all of their jobs. So also if you go onto a waiting list, it’s expected.
What you should see from a good contractor is preparedness. He or she should have references and pictures of the work that he or she has done. A good contractor also should be able to answer your questions frankly and comfortably. Ask questions about how long the contractor has been in business, what experience he or she has on this kind of job?
When you negotiate a price remember that good contractors won’t only not work for peanuts, they want a good compensation. So the best bet to get the lowest price is to do a bid with 3 contractors of good reputation. Competition is a great motivator for lowering the price.
And please don’t re-negotiate half way through the job. Most contractors are not desperate and will walk off. I am not patronizing the reader either. You would be surprised how many people do this.
If you have a big job, do a written contract. Also, have a no lien clause attached which means that the contractor and sub contractors can’t put a lien on your property if they have a problem on the job that they want you to pay for (The laws vary from State to State). The clause should, however, let the contractor use the law if the bill isn't paid in a certain period of time. Your bad financial luck should not be the contractor’s problem.
Too, realize for the best work you may have to pay more. Use common sense in everything. I know of a couple who lost buying their dream house over $ 1500 that they would not come down on. What is $ 1500 to a younger couple, $ 50 a year even with the interest included.
At the same time, you are not running a charity. If three bids gives you a price that's still too steep, negotiating before the job is fine. If you have enough work, the contractor may hope that you will use him or her for all your jobs and pointing this out can help you.
Finally, a way to save on costs is to pay for material yourself as you don’t really know how much of the material savings the contractor will pass on to you. Unfortunately, some stores will not negotiate with home owners. 84 Lumber will though.
Have your contractor get prices at a contractor store and see if 84 Lumber will beat the price, especially if the 84 needs to make its quota.
Next week, how to become a general contractor.
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Jeffrey Ruzicka is a retired executive of a small company that specializes in industrial water treatment. He lives happily with his wife in Western Pennsylvania and is a contributing writer toFinancialJobBank,FinancialJobBankBlog,ConstructionJobForce, ConstructionJobForceBlog andNexxt.