Why is it that when women get their haircut they always seek out the same stylist repeatedly? They never call around town to get three price quotes from the different hair salons to see who has the lowest price on hair cutting. Why is that? Because they want the job done right and the cost is secondary. Why should one stylist be any different than the next? After all they are just cutting hair. All the stylists went to beauty school and all the stylists are licensed by the state. Yet women seek out these stylists regardless of cost due to their ability to get the job done exactly the way they wanted.
Too many homeowners believe they need three bids. They consider it due diligence. They have been told to get three bids by their friends, their banker, the news media, and their architect. The idea, of course, is to compare proposals and make an informed decision. Homeowners don’t realize that the only thing they can compare is price and that’s a terrible way to make a major decision about their most valuable asset.
Comparing three bids assumes that you the homeowner can review multiple quotes for your project and picking the one that is the best deal. Does this work? No. Most homeowners lack the knowledge to do a realistic comparison of one contractor’s proposal to the next. In my 40 years as a contractor I have probably run into 3 or 4 people with enough knowledge of construction practices and materials to make an informed decision on what it is they are getting.
All contractors are not the same and no two contractors are going to build the same way or with the same materials. These contractors will submit different proposals for the same job all based on their idea of how the job will be built. It is a waste of your time to get three different quotes that won’t even be comparable.
There is no uniformity in the construction business. Materials vary widely in cost and quality from one manufacturer to another. Homeowners who choose their contractor based on the results of their three bids will be asking for a low-quality job, whether they know it or not.
Many contractors play the low bid game by deliberately underbidding the job so they can make it up with change orders later. They will deliberately leave out items from their proposal to lower the price, then when you ask about it, you get “that will be extra”. Another game some contractors use is to purposely low ball the allowances for items you haven’t picked out yet, such as $2,000 for kitchen appliances. They full well know that you can’t buy a whole kitchen full of appliances for this amount and you will be on the hook for any cost over the allowance amount. You the homeowner won’t see this coming, but you will pay a much higher price by the end of the job.
As a homeowner, we suggest that you don’t get involved in the bidding process, it’s a no-win exercise because there will always be someone willing to quote a lower price in their race to the bottom.
We suggest that you interview your contractor and find one you are comfortable with:
When you the informed homeowner understand what’s really important, the lowest price will be at the bottom of your list.