Avoid Overpricing: Home Contractor Job Price Estimates

Summary of guidelines that may reduce the chance of hiring an overpriced contractor.

Whether it is the first or fifth time that you've hired contractor, using the following guidelines may decrease your chances of hiring an overpriced contractor. I will start by listing each guideline with a brief explanation. Followed by a detailed explanation of each guideline, then ending with a summary paragraph.

List of Guidelines:

1) Ask for contractor referrals from people that you know and trust.

2) Prepare yourself for each consulting appointment..

3) Prepare a mock job description of the job.

4) Actively participate in the contractor appointment. Use your job description information to guide you.

5) Make sure to compare each estimate with the others; this will provide you with an overview of your specific problem and a general price range for this work.

6) Show up for the work appointment.

7) Check the job over immediately after it's completed.

8) Take care of any problems immediately after the job is completed by talking directly to the owner or his representative.

First: Ask for at least three contractors from people that you know and trust. Aim for obtaining one low, medium and high estimate. Don't automatically agree to the first estimate. Politely inform the contractor that you will think it over and get back to him in a timely fashion.

Second: Research how-to articles about your specific repair problem. If you know someone in the field, briefly present your plans to him and then listen carefully to his feedback.

Third: Prepare a mock job description of the job. Describe the problem (including a breakdown of parts, services, labor), a list of solutions and possible completion times. Note any questions that you would like answered in each area. At your first appointment, remember to ask those questions, if the contractor doesn't address them first.

Fourth: Use your job description information as a guide during your first appointment. Listen carefully and be sure to clarify any point that is unclear.

Fifth: View and compare each estimate in the following areas: job description, parts, services, labor costs and job time completion.

Job description:

a) Is it complete?

b) Does it provide a reasonable solution to your problem?

c) Does the contractor know the field and this problem?

d) Is he willing and able to reasonably answer your questions and satisfy your concerns?

Parts and services:

a) Does the contractor use the most up-to-date material and techniques?

b) Does the description of parts sound reasonable?

c) If other services are required does the contractor's plan to coordinate those services seem timely and reasonable?


a) Does completion time and date meet with your expectations and schedule?

b) Is the contractor willing to answer your questions or clarify points in the estimate for you?

Sixth: Show up for the work appointment.

You must let the contractors into your home. You may want to watch the contractor work. Remember that this may depend on the contractor's preference.

Seventh: Inspect the work everything immediately after it is done. Ask any questions immediately. When your inspection is complete, you can sign off on the job.

Eigth: Discuss any problems after the job is done with the owner or his representative. Remember to cite the invoice number and explain your situation. Keep asking for help until your concerns are addressed.

I hope that these guidelines have been helpful. Remember that choosing a contractor for home repair does involve some risk. In any job, mistakes, misunderstandings and unforeseen situations can occur . Following these guidelines, may increase your chances of getting what you paid for: a solution to your maintenance problem(s) and a job well


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