We Went with another Contractor

An itemized list / cost breakdown, more often than not is used against the contractor when it is shared with other builders who will then beat it.

Good contractors use good people, and good people cost more. Just the cost of having the appropriate insurance / bond can be the difference between winning a job or losing it or a ‘lower bid’.

It is the rule of three; there is Good, Cheap and Fast. You can have any two: Good and Cheap, won’t be Fast; Good and Fast, won’t be Cheap; Cheap and Fast, won’t be Good!

When comparing bids, it isn’t the cheapest or the ‘nicest’ person you should select. You should understand why there is a large price difference (it shows there are gaps in your design program or what you have asked for specifically, which means there may be arguments later). If most of the bids are in line, and one is way high or way low, you want to know why before dismissing or selecting them.

A price-only decision almost always costs more in the long run.

Most people tend to believe that a free estimate is just free for them, and never consider the cost and effort of the contractor driving to the site, spending time with a potential customer and drafting up a cost estimate.

Imagine yourself as the contractor and then act accordingly. If you want to hire firms with integrity then always conduct the bidding process as ethically as you can. You want your contractor to be honest, open, direct and to not to waste your time. Do the same. Tell all vendors providing estimates for you how many bids you intend to seek and how you selected them to be part of the bidding. Tell them how long you expect to take to make your decision on who will win the job and why. Explain what criteria is most important to you. If someone comes to your home and gives an estimate and you know right away they’re not going to get the work; tell them before they leave. If your intention is to play one contractor off another to drive down the price; be upfront about it. They may not even want to participate in that and drop out themselves; allow them that opportunity.
If you’ve narrowed down your choices to two different vendors and your having trouble deciding between them; then re-engage them both to help you decide while letting them know they’re finalists. Explain the areas that are making it difficult for you to choose one vs. the other. Then make an informed decision you’ll feel comfortable with and stick with it. Tell the vendors immediately when you decide.

Few important points:
Performance: can the Contractor actually do the work they say they can do. Some Contractors (we’re mainly talking about house-type work) are better at some things. Ensure your work expectations match the Contractors prior performance. Ask for other projects they’ve done that are similar.

  • Compliance:
    you laid out expectations of what you want done. Can the Contractor comply and meet your expectations? Are the things they’re proposing to do technically compliant, legal and guaranteed? Bonded? Are the expectations and statement of work clear? You don’t want to get part way in and find it wasn’t clear to begin with. Leads to cost overruns, disputes, etc.
  • Communication skills:
    do you and the Contractor have a good personality and style match? Do you just instinctively get along with them and have that gut level trust? These things say a lot about fit and how any issues, if needed, may get resolved.
  • Be positive no matter what:
    Lastly, even if a Contractor doesn’t win your business, they should say “thanks for the consideration and please reach out to us if you have other projects or know someone who does”. Keep a positive tone and an open door.

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