Many people ask me, “What’s the best approach to ensure I’m getting the best quality for the best price when trying to determine the right contractor for my project?”
My answer is going to disappoint some of you, because I’m going to advise you to set aside time to engage in some very frank in-person discussions with a few well recommended contractors about all aspects of the project.
Don’t just ask for a flat price for an entire project or what the cost is per hour. Instead ask what type of materials are going to be used and why; what’s the difference in cost from high-end to low, and then ask how much time the project is going to take provided there aren’t any unforeseen hiccups. Ask for the contractor’s philosophy on pricing. If it’s all about profit, that’s a red flags.
Obtain references and then contact them. Ask if the contractor was on time, dependable, and truthful. Ask if the contractor sought them out to get their input about materials, timing, and potential impact on other aspects of the job, etc. when unforeseen challenges arose, or did he just push through to meet a deadline risking their disappointment with the work performed. Ask if the materials used were what they’d expected or did they find they weren’t quite the quality they’d anticipated for the price they had paid. Ask if the time spent on the job was focused on the tasks at hand, rather than schmoozing about the weather, politics, other clients, family and friends, and places visited.
You then may ask, “Why would I have to go through all of this if all I want to have done is something simple like a faucet changed in my kitchen or caulking done in my bathroom?” Well…it comes down to this, when you meet an individual in person you immediately begin to build a relationship. Depending on what that relationship becomes and the individual’s expertise and communication style, you may have found a partner who not only is able to perform that one simple task you initially had in mind, but others as well. In fact, that individual may also become the one you rely on when it comes to much larger projects; the one who is watching out for your best interests.
In the long run, pricing is about relationship building and most people will agree it’s difficult to find that one special person on whom you can rely, but when you do it “priceless”.