Working with contractors for home repair or renovation can be a tricky undertaking. Often, you may receive a quote before a contractor starts a job. So, what happens when a contractor gives you a quote? Here is some important information you should know about quotes so you can avoid unwanted costs and erroneous work.
An Estimate vs. a Quote
The first thing to understand is the difference between an estimate and a quote, as people sometimes believe the two to be one and the same. An estimate is the amount of money that the contractor thinks the job will take to complete. They may communicate this information through words or put in writing. You should never agree to an estimate thinking that the given amount is exactly what you will pay. However, any increase in price should generally stay within 10 to 15% of that new final cost. You may get an estimate in writing that states the contractor will not go above a certain percentage to make it safer.
In contrast, a quote specifies the precise cost of a job. The contractor has an obligation to complete the job at that price and cannot put on additional charges without your consent. When both parties have agreed to a quote, they are bound by the contract. For this reason, the quote should be in writing and detail specifics about the job.
Getting a Quote
Before you start calling contractors, you should research the contractors you’re considering. Through recommendations, reviews, and organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, you can find contractors with a good reputation. They should also have experience in the kind of work you need.
Call up those contractors that you think may be the right fit. See if they charge you some money for a quote, then ask for a quote from the ones you want to proceed with. Provide a detailed description of the work that you want them to complete, which may include a layout of the relevant area, materials you want them to use, specifics on how you want things built or repaired, and where you need the work done. Make sure that they give you a quote in writing so that you have proof of it should something go wrong.
Next, compare the costs of the different contractors. Each quote should let you know what work they will do, the costs of materials, how much you will need to pay each subcontractor, and the time that it will take to finish the job. If you see anything that looks odd in the pricing, such as an amount that is much higher or lower for one contractor than it is for the others, be sure to ask questions about it. Once you do this, notify the contractor you choose. You should also call the others that you considered and let them know you have chosen someone for the job.
Once work begins, the contractor must stick to the quote that they gave you. If they need to make changes in the work and/or price, contractors need to put this in writing and communicate it to you. Only after you accept the changes may they legally proceed. Sometimes contractors may do work differently than you want simply due to miscommunication. You should, therefore, check-in with the contractor frequently to spot these details early and avoid having to redo those aspects of the job.
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