When You Go Low BidSince 1974 Village Building & Restoration, LLC has been remodeling the Farmington Valley, With attention to details and you, our client.
“Construction firms often make unrealistically low bids to get jobs… but they can count on finding plenty of reasons later to jack the price up enough to allow for a profit. When the building is underway, it becomes prohibitively expensive to fire the contractor and start anew. The owner has become a hostage.”Wall Street Journal, 12/05/07
There are 2 Types of Low Bidders:
- They Don’t have the Experience to Estimate or Bid Your Job Properly What did "they" forget to make that bid low?
- They Find All the Shortcuts on Quality to make that Low Bid Work. Shortcuts that You Won’t Notice Until It's Too Late to fix them.
My name is Jim Whittemore and I am not only a contractor but I have also been an expert witness in construction defects, so I speak from first hand knowledge of what can go wrong in a home renovation project.
I am providing this as a service so you can make the best decision possible, regardless of who you decide to go with.
Most homeowners only undertake a significant remodeling project like a kitchen or an addition or even a total bathroom makeover once every 10 years or more.
There are ways that you can protect yourself from contractors that will take advantage of your lack of knowledge about home remodeling.
I understand that choosing the low bid can look like a smart way to save money, but it rarely works out.
If someone bids 15% or more below another bid, here is one thing you can count on: they aren’t doing the same installation or they aren’t using the same materials. Everyone is in business to make money and a 15% profit is a solid one so the low bidder has to cut corners to make a profit and the homeowner ends up being the loser. Our thorough esimating system often makes us the highest bidder, but our clients are never asked to pay for something that we forgot. Ask them. "Our projects run on budget"!
2 Simple Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself
- Use the questions on the How to Select a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor to weed out the contractor that won’t commit to anything in writing or is vague with their answers.
- Require the remodeling contractor to detail step-by-step what they are going to do to complete your project. You can then use this information to compare what they are offering with the other bids. The differences should be easy to spot.
Village Building & Restoration LLC will provide you with our written installation processes so you will know what we are going to do step-by-step.
Please check out our Frequently Asked Questions to know about our Fixed Price Agreements and 3 Year Warranty on installation.
8 Things You Should Consider Before You Choose a Company to Complete Your New Kitchen, Bath, Addition
or Any Renovation Project
Spend 10 minutes on a Google search and you will find many stories about contractors that never completed the project, ran off with a deposit or just did a poor job.
- If someone bids 15% or more below another bid, here is one thing you can count on: they aren’t doing the same installation or they aren’t using the same materials. Everyone is in business to make money and a 15% profit is a solid one so the low bidder has to cut corners to make a profit and the homeowner ends up being the loser.
- Ask for the contractor’s best price up front. Ethical contractors do this. Unfortunately some contractors will use a low bid as a point to start negotiating. Then you will never know if you got the right price.
- Always call at least 10 references. Ask every person what the original bid was and what the final price was. Just because they do provide 10 references doesn’t mean that they are competent or that they will do what they say they are going to do.
- Ask their insurance agent to send you proof of insurance directly. This is the only way to insure that they have current insurance.
- Ask for their Connecticut Registration Number and then go to the state site and see what their status is.
- Many times, the low bidder isn’t licensed and doesn’t carry any insurance. This puts all the risk on the homeowner. An unlicensed contractor cheats the government and if they will do that they won’t think twice about cheating you. Avoiding them is just smart.
- If your house was built before 1978, the remodeling contractor must be certified in Lead Safe Work Practices. Ask to see their license number and then check out the government website to make sure it is current. This is another area where a contractor can endanger the health of you and your children if they are not properly trained.
- Finally, all Connecticut home improvement contractor must disclose all legal entities that they have been an owner, shareholder or partner in that has been a home improvement contractor. This requirement is for the previous 5 years.
- Never get a permit for an unlicensed contractor. If things go bad you won't be covered by CT Department of Consumer Protections Guarantee Fund.
If you are seriously considering hiring any contractor with a very attractive bid to install a new kitchen, bathroom or an addition please refer to How to Select a Professional Remodeling Contractor. Ask all the questions and get the answers in writing to every question before you sign. You will be glad you did.
Typical Results of the Low Bidder
Framing – Walls that aren't plumb create problems with drywall and finish work. The cabinets and trim work won’t be flush with wall or ceiling. The gaps will be almost impossible to fill and it will just look awful.
Sheetrock and Drywall – Nail pops, seams that show and uneven sanding. Most of these issues won’t show up right away but they will begin to show just months after the job is finished and they are almost impossible to fix without starting over. Don’t allow them to use sheetrock from China (they will try to do that to save money) because it can have some very serious health consequences (you can Google this too.)
Cabinetry – Drawers that come apart, loose hinges, shelves that warp, mismatched hardware are just some of the issues with lower quality cabinets. Inexperienced remodelers will have a tough time getting the measurements right and that can lead to significant modifications on site. It can even mean replacement cabinets need to be ordered and that can delay your project for weeks.
Windows – Bargain windows (10 windows for $499 etc,) are no bargain. They will cost a lot more in energy in the long run than the up front “savings”. Well made windows are custom manufactured to fit each opening. This insures the proper sealing of the opening. Properly measured and installed windows will keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Don’t let the low bidder tell you that all windows are created equal, they aren’t.
Granite – This can be a big investment that can look like a mistake. If the template isn’t prepared correctly, it simply won’t fit properly. It will have uneven seams, and if the sub decking shifts – the seams will get bigger and filling it in only makes it look worse.
Plumbing – Poorly installed plumbing fixtures or cheap plumbing components, especially the ones behind the walls can begin to leak and cause long term damage to floors, walls and ceilings. Leaks can create mold issues and mold is very expensive to remediate... If noted on insurance CLU report; your home may be considered uninsurable in which case it can't be sold. If you go too cheap on toilets you end up having a plunge your toilets daily (hard to believe but it is true).
Electrical – Wrong load count used will cause circuits to blow. GFCI may not work or the reset button is hard to locate.
HVAC – Uneven airflow distribution means the home won't heat/cool well in all rooms. If your system isn’t properly balanced this can lead to a big increase in utility bills. It can appear to be cheaper up front but it is much more expensive in the long run because the energy efficiency (SEER) rating will have a direct impact on your monthly utility bill.
Roofing – Improper installations will create problems with storms with strong wind and rain. Shingles secured with only 3 nails can blow off in very low winds. You can end up with leaks that damage drywall, cabinets, carpet etc... Flat roofs can be really expensive to repair/replace if the roofer uses low quality material. It will be very expensive when you go to sell and the inspection report comes back with the news that the roof needs to be replaced. It will likely cost thousands of dollars and may even cause a buyer to walk away.
Paint – Painting is only as good as the prep work... uneven seams and lines from the rolling brush. If cheap paint is used you have no wash-ability – paint comes off and you're looking at drywall mud... trim work that is sloppy looks even worse when it is painted.
At Village Building & Restoration LLC, we want our customers to know what they are getting for their hard earned dollars. Our step-by-step installation processes for kitchens, baths and finished basements will allow you to compare on an apples-to-apples basis what we are providing versus our competitors so you won’t get fooled by someone with a low price.