Understanding Your Home Remodeling Estimate


Home Remodeling Estimates

Have you recently received an estimate for a home remodeling project?  Did it seem high to you?  Maybe you’re researching a project you’d like to have completed in the coming months and want to know rough costs?

Depending on the scope and scale of your particular project you could be looking at an estimate with costs of $5,000 – $60,000+ or more.  Some homeowners just aren’t prepared for that kind of sticker shock when it comes to remodeling their home.

It’s not always a case of the contractor being high-priced, sometimes the homeowners, just don’t understand what’s actually involved on the part of the contractor to complete the work they want done.

To make the problem worse in the remodeling world, there are many guys with pickup trucks masquerading as professional remodeling contractors.  Often unlicensed and uninsured these guys are able to grossly undercut the real professionals in the industry.  If you’ve ever heard a remodeling horror story it usually starts with accepting one of the lowest bids for the project.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to discern a professional contractors estimate from a hacks estimate if you know what to look for.

Professional Remodeling Contractors Use Contracts!

Home Remodeling ContractHaving everything in writing protects you as a homeowner and protects the contractor as a business owner who is about to do extensive work to your home.  Fly-by-night contractors don’t like contracts and often don’t use them.  For small projects this might be acceptable but if you’re spending $1000’s you want everything in writing.

Was the scope of work and materials list pretty vague?  That’s your first clue that the contractor you’re dealing with isn’t on the up and up.

If you’ve received an estimate from a professional it will likely be several pages long and highly detailed and itemized.    Fly-by-night contractors don’t do this, it takes too much time and effort.  

When a professional remodeling contractor provides you with a home remodeling estimate it will probably be on company letterhead.  You’ll receive a thorough description of the work involved, the materials being used and any and all requests or special considerations you’ve asked for in writing.

It’s not cheap to have proper paperwork drafted by a legal professional.  If your remodeling estimate looks professional, it’s a good first indication that the contractor behind it might be professional too. If you received your estimate on a scrap piece of paper, with a handwritten quote and vague descriptions, it might be a clue to keep looking.

Professional Remodeling Contractors Are Licensed and Insured

Licensed and Insured ContractorLicensing and proper insurance both for employees and the projects a home remodeling contractor works on are business expenses, that don’t come cheap.  You’d think this one would be obvious but make sure the remodeling estimate you’ve received has come from a licensed and insured contractor.  Believe it or not, many contractors have neither.  Either because they never were licensed or they simply never renewed it (very common).  What if you’re contractor damages your home or property?  Do you think they are organized enough to handle it?

Your estimate from a professional remodeling contractor will probably mention the fact they are licensed and insured to do business in your area.

Professional Contractors Have To Pay Employees

Contractor EmployeesMost professional contractors although talented builders, couldn’t do it all on their own.  They need a team of talented craftsman (and often apprentices) working closely with them on every project. Employees cost money.  If you want good, reliable employees that continually do amazing work, they cost even more.  If you look at the remodeling contractors in your area that consistently put out the highest quality of work you’ll find they almost always pay their employees very well.  The contractor earns the respect of his crew, and they put more effort into your project.

A large portion of your estimate will go to paying the wages of your contractors employees or sub-contractors used on your project.  It is NEVER fair nor good practice to ask your contractor to lower the rates for his crew.  If you think they are too high you might be better off trying to acquire another estimate.  But beware, the lowest paid employees (generally fake tradesman) won’t put the same quality of craftsmanship into your project.?

Will Any Special Tools or Equipment Be Required?

Some home remodeling projects may require the use of special tools, or speciality equipment that must either be purchased, rented or hired for your project.  For example, if your contractor is doing a large landscaping project that involved moving lots of earth they may need to hire the services of a backhoe or an excavator.  With that comes an operator, and fuel and transportation, so the costs can add up quickly.

Other special equipment could include machinery rentals, transport costs (think moving heavy material or machinery), consulting fees and more.  It’s important you understand what special equipment is required for your project and why because that cost is going to be passed onto you.

What Building Materials or Products Are Being Installed?

Home Improvement ProductsThe materials you’ve chosen can greatly affect the cost of your remodeling estimate.  Most contractors (if they are legit) will get a pretty generous discount on materials from their local suppliers.  Often remodeling contractors will then mark these materials up when they bill them to you, and make a little money off the top.  However, there are other contractors who opt to pass the savings onto you and instead earn their money with their expertise and the labour they put into your project.

When you have tile that goes for $2.00 a square foot up to $50+ per square foot and every other building material follows the same scale you can see how the cost of materials will greatly affect your estimate.

Professional Remodeling Contractors Offer A Written Warranty

Home Remodeling WarrantyThis is an important one and it’s a little bit deceiving because while some contractors will offer you a warranty on their work, they simply just won’t be around to service it.  This is very common with the lowest bids on any home remodeling project.  These contractors under value their time because they need the next dollar quick.  It’s not a guarantee that they’ll be around in a year to fix that messed up tile, or the leaking shower.  A professional home remodeling contractor will offer you a rock solid warranty, in writing and while that’s still not a guarantee you’ll just have to look at the contractors reputation, the length of time they’ve been in business and how they conduct themselves to make that determination for yourself.

If your warranty information is clearly detailed and explained on the estimate you’ve received then it’s a good sign the remodeling contractor you’re working with is legit.

Does Your Contractor Have Lots Of Overhead?

This is pretty important because you can learn a lot about your contractor based on how their business appears to you and the rest of the public.  Does your contractor drive a $60,000 1 ton truck when a 1/2 ton, 10 year old pickup might work just fine?  Do the employees drive brand new company vehicles? Do they have a large showroom? Do they employ commissioned sales staff?

These are all business expenses that will be passed onto you (the homeowner) under the guise of “we’ll you get what you pay for”… That’s true… But you can find a high quality contractor who puts out great work and runs a much smaller business and overhead costs.  Thus, your estimate could be lower if the contractor didn’t have as much overhead.  Do your research here.  These contractors are like well kept secrets in the community and will almost always be booked well in advance.

Who Provides Home Remodeling Estimates Reading?

Mike’s Remodeling and Handyman is a full service home remodeling and handyman service.  If you’re looking for a reliable, honest contractor who along with his crew, take great pride in the work they do then look no further than Mike’s.  Give us a call today or fill out one of our online forms to arrange a time for your estimate.

Setup Your Home Remodeling Estimate