When considering contractors for your decking, addition, or home improvement project, it can be tempting to choose the one who promises to get the job done for the lowest cost, especially if you’re working within a tighter budget. But while hiring a low-cost contractor may seem like a good way to save money at first, doing so can end up costing you a lot more down the line.
As an industry insider, it can be difficult to approach this topic without coming off as pompous, biased, or ignorant of the variety of talent that exists within it. However, me and my experienced peers know all too well the costs associated with newcomers or 'the lowest bidder' because we get hired to fix their mistakes. Again, this is not true of all budget builders, but below are the ways in which 'too good to be true' low estimates can turn into costly mistakes:
- Dishonest estimates. A low-cost contractor may present you with a low bid initially in an attempt to persuade you to hire them. However, this contractor’s estimate may not include many important fees, such as the cost of securing a permit, repairing your living space, or cleaning up after a job. Down the road, they may hit you with a change order requesting more money for the project as these issues arise.
Before accepting a bid, make sure you review your contractor’s itemized estimate closely. If the individual is honest and experienced, his or her bid will include permitting fees, electrical work, cleaning and repairs, and demolition and trash hauling.
- Inaccurate estimates. Of course, not all discount contractors are trying to deceive you with a low bid. They may just simply be inexperienced, and unable to correctly estimate a bid that includes unforeseen costs. They may have never worked with this type of project or in your area before, and are unaware of all the associated issues and potential problems.
Alternatively, a quality contractor will have handled many similar projects before, and will be able to anticipate all the special fees and costly complications that could arise during your project.
- Time. An inexperienced contractor who does not have enough funding for a project is likely to take much longer, barring you from using your home, deck, or yard for months. In the meantime, you may be forced to spend money on a hotel room because you can’t access your bedroom, or on eating out because you can’t get into your kitchen. This isn’t usually as big of a deal where deck-building is concerned, but it can still be frustrating.
By contrast, a quality deck contractor will know exactly what the project needs to be completed in a timely manner without sacrificing quality. It makes sense considering they have had more time and applied experience with their building regiment.
- Material costs. If your contractor hasn’t worked with the brands and varieties of materials involved in your project, he or she is likely to make errors in the installation or construction process. When this happens, your contractor may have to purchase replacement materials at a higher cost to you.
- Future repairs. Your deck, addition, or home improvement project is likely to deteriorate quickly over time after being constructed by a contractor who is inexperienced or trying to cut corners. Shoddy and inexpert jobs will start to fall apart within a few years or even a few months of their completion, inevitably forcing you to pay for costly repairs out of pocket.
- Immediate repairs. Even more frustrating than near or distant future repairs are immediate repairs. If your contractor completes a job that simply looks terrible, you may need to hire another contractor to make it right. The combined cost of hiring a discounted contractor plus a quality contractor to fix the clumsy work of that discounted contractor will far exceed the cost of hiring an experienced design build firm to begin with.
When you hire a quality contractor at the start of your project, you can count on superior craftsmanship and attention to detail the first time around. And unlike a discount contractor, a quality contractor aims to go above and beyond your expectations, and will eagerly make any requested changes or fixes to a project until you are satisfied before calling the job complete.