Should You Risk Your Dream Project on a Low-Priced Contractor?
The information on this page is not meant to scare you. Rather, it is meant to give you the tools and information you need so that your project doesn’t turn into a home remodeling nightmare.
If you are like most of the homeowners we have met, you have not undertaken a significant remodeling project like a kitchen, bathroom, addition, basement or whole house renovation very often. The result is that most homeowners don’t know what to look out for when hiring a contractor.
Unfortunately, unscrupulous contractors that operate in our area area know this and they may seek to take advantage of you.
There are plenty of honest, reputable remodeling contractors in our area who do good work. But figuring out which ones are the ‘good guys’ isn’t always easy.
Do a quick Google search and you will come up with plenty of stories about contractors that disappeared with homeowners’ deposits, did substandard work, operate without being licensed or simply walk off the job.
If a contractor gives vague answers to your questions or is reluctant to put answers in writing, you should cross them off of your list.
It is also a good idea to ask the contractor to detail – step-by-step – what they are going to do to complete your project. This will allow you to compare each bid on an apples-to-apples basis. It eliminates the guesswork and it will be clear to you how each contractor’s proposal is different.
6 Things You Need to Know Before You Hire a Contractor to Complete Your Home Renovation or Home Remodeling Project
1. Many contractors offer a proposal with a low price and few details. These proposals often include contingencies or include a lot of allowances for fixtures or materials. For example, the proposal might allow $200 for a faucet, while the faucet that you select for your new bathroom will cost $800. When you add up all of the fixtures, lighting, cabinets, tile, flooring, countertops, and so on, the price difference between two proposals can be large.
It’s a sneaky way for contractors to illustrate a low price. Ultimately it will cost you as much or more to get the finished project the way you want it.
Legitimate contractors don’t work that way. Razzano Homes & Remodeling provides a complete bid, including all costs as soon as your design is approved. If this is not feasible in a particular situation, we will discuss with you the details about any contingencies or allowances in the agreement so that you are fully aware of what the complete project cost will be.
2. A slightly different way that disreputable contractors will take advantage of you is by substituting lower quality materials in your project. Low-end kitchen cabinets can cost $10,000 while high-end cabinets can run $50,000 for the same kitchen. The low-end cabinets will look fine for six months or a year, but then doors will begin to sag or drawers can fall apart.
A reputable contractor will help you design your project and then help you manage your budget by providing alternatives that will give you the look and functionality you want, all while keeping you within your budget.
3. You’ll notice that several of the 18 Questions we suggest you ask every contractor have to do with their employees. We’re proud of the skill and dedication that our craftsmen have to doing exceptional work that you will absolutely love. There are contractors, however, who choose to use unskilled laborers to do work in their customers’ homes. In addition to being unethical, who knows where these individuals come from and what their background is?
4. Don’t make the mistake that so many people make and fail to check references. It is natural to trust a person who is polite and friendly. Unscrupulous people can be very polite and friendly. Use the questions on our References page and call at least ten references. Make sure to ask how the final price compared to the original proposal.
5. There is also a pretty good chance that low-priced contractor doesn’t carry any insurance or has minimal insurance. This puts all the risk on the homeowner. Avoiding them is just smart.
6. Beware of any contractor that wants you to get the required permits and deal with the inspections, or offers to do work without the necessary permits. This is a BIG warning sign. If something goes wrong at some point in the future – say a house fire – and your insurance company determines that you had work done without the proper permits, they may deny your claims.
Before you commit to a low-priced contractor, please check them out thoroughly.
Now, you may be thinking, “But the difference in price is a lot of money… how bad could it possibly be?”
Here’s a Short List of Things That Could Go Wrong
Windows – There is a huge difference between a $69 bargain window and a well-made window. These windows will not be custom fit for your home and this will cause improper installation or shortcuts in installation. The bottom line is they will make your house cold in the winter and hot in the summer and will cost you far more in utility bills.
Sheetrock and Drywall – Nails pop and seams begin to show up shortly after the job is finished, and then it’s too late. One more thing – drywall from lesser known brands can potentially have some very serious health consequences.
Framing – Walls have to be plumb or they will cause endless problems with the drywall, moldings, casements and other trim work. Cabinets and trim work won’t be flush with the wall or ceiling. The gaps will be almost impossible to fill and it will just look awful.
Cabinets – As we pointed out above, you can spend $10,000 or $50,000 on cabinets for the same kitchen. Lots of cabinets look fine from the outside, but the inner construction is cheap. Doors will warp or won’t close, drawers come apart, tracks and hinges come loose. If the measurements are not done correctly, the cabinets will have to be modified on site to make them fit, and this can delay your project for weeks.
Granite or Marble – These are nice upgrades and they should look great. But if they aren’t installed properly, you can end up with uneven seams. And if the sub decking shifts, the seams will get bigger or the stone may even crack. This can be a big investment that ends up being a big disappointment for you.
Plumbing – Cheap plumbing components, especially those inside the walls, can begin to leak and cause long term damage to floors, walls and ceilings. Leaks can create mold issues and mold is very expensive to remediate and can lead to insurability issues.
HVAC – This is an area that you really need to have a professional design and installation. Poor design or the wrong sized system will result in different temperatures from room to room, or too much moisture in one room. Your utility costs will increase as you constantly have to change the thermostat.
Roofing – Contractors know that very few homeowners will never get up on a roof to inspect it. Low bidders knows this and will use it to their advantage. Ridge vents must be correctly installed to ensure proper air flow, transitions must be flush to prevent leaks, flashing provides necessary protection against the elements, and much more. There are more than 20 inspection points that should be checked on each roof installation to ensure that the manufacturer’s warranty is enforceable.
Painting – If drywall is poorly installed, it will be almost impossible for the painter to make it look right. Defects will show up in uneven seams, nail pops, uneven surfaces, and more. Additional time will be required to prep the walls to try to fix the other issues.
On-the-Job Accidents – If the contractor doesn’t carry proper insurance, the medical bills for an injury that occurs on your property could end up being your responsibility.
At Razzano Homes & Remodeling, we want our clients to know what they are getting for their hard earned dollars. Our step-by-step installation processes for additions, kitchens, baths, and all other major projects will allow you to compare on an apples-to-apples basis what we are providing versus our competitors, so you won’t get fooled by someone with a low price.
If you are planning to finally start that remodeling project you’ve always had in mind, or if you’re looking to add space to your home with a home addition, let us show you our experience so that your dream project won’t become a home remodeling nightmare.