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Is it Worth Paying More for a Better Contractor in Washington, D.C.?

Posted in: Deck Contractor Permits, Contractor Portfolios, Contracting Questions

James Moylan

Friday, March 20, 2015

porch being built on a clear day by a deck building contractor carpenter in maryland

Cost factors for estimates by experienced contractors versus discount builders in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

In a previous post, we discussed the how contractors determine the prices they charge for home improvement jobs. They generally break their estimate figures into thirds between (1) materials, (2) labor, and (3) overheads and profit. Why, then, do so-called design build firms and other higher quality contractors oftentimes offer higher initial estimates than their discount competitors? Are they simply charging more money for comparable work?

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The answer is a resounding no. The formers' bids are all-inclusive and will account for special fees and hidden or unforeseen costs, meaning they are more likely to be upfront and organized. A design builder's motivations are also different; their ultimate goal is to produce architectural art and exceed client expectations with their talents rather than cut corners for a quick return. It goes without saying that there are good and bad in both contracting realms, but these facts are pretty standard for companies who are legitimately high quality in practice, not just name.

 Below are the top 6 factors influencing the cost of a quality builder's estimates:

  1. Accuracy. They have the experience necessary to calculate an accurate estimate, having handled many different projects before. Unlike an inexperienced counterpart, they will be able to anticipate unforeseen expenses that often arise. He or she will know the financials of their company, and be able to calculate what they need to complete the job in an efficient and timely manner as well as provide a fair cost for a fair profit. In contrast, an inexperienced contractor will often unknowingly sell the project at a loss, and may require more money to handle unexpected costs and see the project through to completion.

  2. All-inclusive pricing. A developed estimate will be all inclusive, covering critical costs such as obtaining and paying for a building permit and inspections, as well as cleaning the house, yard, and driveway after the project is finished. An inexperienced or discount builder's estimate will often overlook such key details, leaving you to pay for these necessities out of pocket unexpectedly.

  3. Customer support and service. A quality contractor will be backed by a top-notch, well-paid staff. You can count on this staff to be highly trained and expect that they engage in continuing education to perfect their craft. A quality contractor will have an excellent construction management team with a lead project supervisor for the project, as well as several on-site supervisors. Ultimately, this leads to exceptional service, customer support, and project organization.

  4. A highly qualified construction team. While discount contractors typically have a team of two or three, a quality team will be made up of four or five highly qualified builders. You can be assured that your quality contractor’s construction team is well compensated, and all members are licensed, bonded, and properly insured. For this reason, quality contractors are able to complete projects much faster without sacrificing quality.

  5. Flexibility. One of the main goals of a quality contractor is to go above and beyond customer expectations, which means they’ll be willing to change, fix, or redo any aspect of a job at the customer’s request. Alternatively, a discount contractor must be more concerned about staying within their tighter budget, and will often be unwilling or unable to accommodate criticism or requests for changes and fixes that arise during the job.

  6. Quality of the finished product. A quality builder will take pride in their work and be more interested in creating a beautiful and functional work of architecture than a hastily finished product. They will complete the job right the first time, providing you with a long-lasting finished product and sparing you from having to make costly repairs and fixes in the future. Yes, that does happen, but you are still almost guaranteed to receive a better ROI on your investment by choosing a decking contractor who is in the business for passion, not just money.

In the end, more experienced or higher quality contractors may appear to cost more upfront, but if their reviews can verify their legitimacy, they are going to be worth every penny of their estimate and will provide you with a finished project that is exceptional in appearance, quality, and design.

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