Contracting Bids - Image

What Should Be on Every Home Remodel Contractor Bid?

Thinking of taking on a home remodel project? Good for you. It’s a big step, but the payoff in terms of the increased value of your home can be significant. You’ll also enjoy the “new home” feel and better use of the space, but you still get to keep your old neighborhood and the welcome familiarity of the rest of your home.

Your home remodel is also likely to cost a lot less than moving into new digs, so that’s another bonus.

Your biggest and probably most critical step is finding and hiring a general contractor whose work you trust. But what should you expect in a cost estimate from home contractors? How do you know if you’re learning all you need to know and that it’s all in writing? How do you make sure you’re comparing apples with apples, oranges with oranges in getting bids from a selection of general contractors?

The secret to trouble-free bids is to ask the same questions of all home remodel contractors. That way you’ll get comparable answers. Here, then, is the information that we think should be on every home remodeling bid, from every general contractor you approach.

A description of what you’re getting and when you’ll get it

Your contractor might not be a poet with words, but you must get a clear idea of what services will be performed on your room addition or other projects. All elements of the project should be committed to writing: what will be torn down, the building materials, fixtures, and appliances to be used, and all costs, responsibilities and time expectations. Review each element carefully, take nothing for granted and don’t hesitate to request changes or fuller written explanations if something doesn’t hit you right.

All safeguards in place

Will your general contractor be responsible for obtaining all permits? Will workers be bonded and does the company have workers comp and liability insurance? You also need lien waivers, so no one hired by your general contractor can say they weren’t paid even though you paid through the contractor.

The point is, you’re going to be exchanging a lot of money for a lot of activity and disruption. You need to be able to sleep nights without wondering whether your room addition or other home improvement project will hurt your life more than it helps.

A clear understanding of payment stages

Your home remodel will probably cost at least tens of thousands of dollars, and possibly more. The job might take several months. Your general contractor must hire and possibly pay upfront for the services of electricians, plumbers, roofers, and other tradespeople. That could get costly, which is why it’s not unfair for your contractor to expect to be paid at intervals, rather than invoicing you only when the job is completed.

That’s probably only a problem if it’s a surprise. If you know well ahead of time when a specified amount is due, you can shift funds or make sure your lender comes through when you need cash. That sure beats having your general contractor walk in and ask you for a check for $20,000 that you weren’t expecting.

Changes in writing

Stuff happens. Unexpected weather can bring exterior construction to a standstill. The building material supply chain can be disrupted. You, the buyer, might even make mid-project changes that challenge costs and schedules. It’s no one’s fault, but anytime stated deadlines or conditions change, both parties need to get it in writing.

This doesn’t mean you must draw up a new contract with every change order. Sometimes it’s as simple as scratching out old dates or cost figures, inking in changes and then getting both parties to initialize the change right on the original contract. Or covering it with an email exchange. The point is, get it in writing so that you both have proof of changes requested and granted.

The Final Word

The final word on the subject is that every bid from a general contractor should leave you feeling assured of cost, conditions, and deadlines. If you read each bid carefully but still have questions or doubts, get answers in writing.

If you’re still not satisfied, perhaps it’s time to keep looking for a home remodeling contractor who can submit a bid you trust.

Additional home remodeling articles you may be interested in: