Minimizing Home Repair Costs

You can minimize contractor costs significantly by carefully reviewing and negotiating your contractor’s initial bid for your home remodel or repair. Having received bids ranging from as little as $50,000 to as high as $144,000 for my home restoration, I know first-hand how liberally contractors can pad their proposals.




Ask probing questions: Review the bid line-item-by-line-item, questioning any cost that does not appear reasonable. If you are unfamiliar with the cost of certain fixtures and supplies, check the prices at a do-it-yourself store or on the Web. Assume that everything is negotiable, but focus on areas in which you can achieve the greatest savings. Questions like “The hauling fees seem high to me. Is there any room in those figures?” can save you hundreds of dollars.


Leverage intelligence from competing bids: If the estimate from your second-choice candidate listed a sliding glass door replacement cost that is $1,000 less than your contractor’s price, confidently state that you know it can be done for less. Unless you’ve already signed a contract, your contractor will recognize that you are still free to pursue other alternatives and should be willing to work with you.


Purchase supplies yourself: A great way to reduce your monetary commitment is to agree that you will procure certain items yourself. You can assume, for example, that if the contractor is responsible for purchasing the appliances for your remodel, there will be some level of mark-up over the retail price of the appliances. A good appliance warehouse will give you a discount for purchasing multiple items. If you purchase multiple appliances from the same manufacturer, you may also be eligible for a manufacturer’s rebate. Always ask for a contractor’s discount. Certain vendors may deny you the discount but, more often than not, they will not even ask if you are a contractor. Simply asking the question can save you five to ten percent, or even more.


Request lower-cost subcontractors (who you also know to be reliable): Another potential way to save money is to request an alternate subcontractor for particularly expensive items. For example, if the quote for the sliding glass door installation seems high to you, your general contractor may agree to explore working with a lower cost subcontractor who you recommend.


Refrain from discussing your budget: The one thing you should absolutely avoid during this process is answering any questions about your budget. Your contractor may try to gain a negotiating advantage by casually asking “how much are you looking to spend?” Do not answer this question under any circumstances. Of course, he will use the information to gauge how much you can afford and will negotiate harder if he believes price is no object. If he should attempt to feel you out on budget, politely respond “Why, as little as possible, of course!”


Insist on closed costs for every item: Every line item should have a price tag attached to it. Under no circumstances should you agree to “Open” or “TBD” for any tasks or materials other than city permits. When the scope of work is finished, it should be completely closed, with a final number that is documented as the total cost of your job. Your contractor may attempt to incorporate an hourly fee for certain installations, insisting that it is impossible to determine how long they will take. To the contrary, good contractors can estimate with a high degree of certainly the number of man hours required for each component of the project. While certain items may run a bit over, certain others will not take as long as expected. Either way, hold firm in your request for set fees, which can easily be calculated with educated assumptions about the labor involved.


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One Response to “Minimizing Home Repair Costs”

  1. Ariel West Says:

    dont forget to get pink hard hats …

    what more can i say… IMHO


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