You have probably heard the old mantra repeated many times: “Get three bids from different contractors before you decide on the right company to complete your construction or remodeling project.” On the surface the advice makes a lot of sense – no one wants to get ripped off or regret their decision. You take the time to call and meet with multiple companies, review the work with them, wait for each of their proposals, and then choose the lowest priced quote.
While traditionally this system made a lot of sense, there may be some unexpected drawbacks that result in a worse overall experience for the homeowner. We’ll review some of these negatives below that often people don’t consider and explain why we feel, especially with the advancement of internet research possibilities, that it can be advantageous to work with just one contractor from start to finish.
Nobody Wants to Get Ripped Off
Let’s face it, professional contracting as an industry hasn’t had the best reputation. There is a history of builders promising the world but not showing after the first check is collected. At one point in time there was good reason to take the time and effort to interview at least three contractors for a given project. Reputation, both public and digital, is incredibly important in the current climate and any builder would be foolish to ever risk theirs.
Not owning up to a mistake and fixing it or otherwise wronging a customer will get spread far and wide and end up far more costly than taking the time to make it right in the first place. R. L. Rider Remodeling advocates for the approach of making the choice that makes you feel comfortable and confident. If you need to interview 10 contractors before you find the right fit, then so be it. If you feel great after the first meeting with the first remodeler then you should move forward with them. It is all a matter of personal preference, but don’t tie yourself to a random number just because you’ve heard it a million times.
Online Reviews and Social Media Help Keep Companies Honest
The internet has had a powerful effect on countless industries, and remodeling/construction is no exception. The strengths and weaknesses of companies are laid bare through review sites such as Google Business profiles, Facebook, Houzz, Guild Quality, and many more. Instant feedback, good or bad, can be posted to social media as well such as the aforementioned Houzz and Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for the entire community to see.
This alone will not keep a bad builder honest, but the truly good ones will take great pride in their reputation and strive to keep a sterling record. Anyone considering any sort of professional service would be wise to start with a company’s online record as a point to begin. Reviews and social media are not everything but reading through fellow customers’ experiences can provide valuable context for how you can expect to be treated. Weeding out companies before taking the time to meet with a lot of them can save you the hassle and time of numerous appointments.
Remodeling Contractors Can’t Be Compared ‘Apples-to-Apples’
There are many commodities out there – take for example milk, bread, or even apples. There are many brands and companies all offering about the same product at roughly the same price. They are commodities. Remodeling is a complicated process that is an entirely different beast. We are not talking about a trip to the grocery store – remodelers must effectively perform a variety of tasks in a short period of time to deliver a job on-time and on-budget.
You must decide who you think is going to do the best job for you based on many factors, and everyone has different needs so there is no magic bullet that will work for every client. There is almost no such thing as an ‘apples-to-apples’ direct comparison between any given two (or more) remodeling firms. There will always be a difference in service, material specifications, timeline for completion, quality of craftsmen, warranty period, or one of a thousand other factors that will justify the difference in price between contractors.
The point is that it is nearly impossible to make a direct comparison between multiple companies even giving them identical specs and walkthroughs of the same job. Why then would you waste the time and effort to set up a pointless head-to-head, particularly if you already have a good idea of who you want to use anyway? The recommended method would be a decent amount of online research, gathering recommendations from friends and family on their experiences, and then setting up one or two meetings with the top companies.
Opportunity Cost of Time Spent Coordinating and Attending Meetings
Once you are done researching and tracking down remodelers, you must then call them, discuss the project, then set up and attend site meetings to give them all the details. The opportunity cost of this obviously goes up with each contractor you wish to have come out. Even after that you have to wait for each of their estimates to be able to compare, which is to say that if one takes a week and one takes a month you are going to be waiting that full month to even start to decide.
Contractors work normal hours just like nearly every other professional which means you’ll likely need to set aside time from 8am – 5pm. Unfortunately that is during YOUR workday as well which means you’re using paid time off or even going unpaid just to be able to review your project. That is fine for one or two meetings, but what will your company say after meeting number seven? People who value their time cannot justify wasting it meeting with a dozen companies.
Busy Remodelers are Often the Best – Don’t Scare Off the Top Professionals
As the economy has made a steady recovery since the crash of 2008, building and remodeling professionals have seen their workload increase in kind. Combined with a shortage of good labor and pent up demand, the industry has reached a bit of a fever pitch with how busy good contractors are getting. Long story short, you might want to be a little suspicious of a builder who can jump on your project immediately – ask yourself why they are not as busy as the rest of the industry…
Many companies are, like R. L. Rider Remodeling, employing a full-service design/build approach which means we handle every detail of job from initial concept to final warranty. This is an intensive process and is not feasible if the end result is a traditional “bid” against other firms. To invest that much time in a project and then only “win” as a low bidder 1 out of 5 will quickly put a remodeler with that model out of business. If you truly want the best, you may want to involve a trusted professional as early as possible and let the project develop instead of having “too many cooks in the kitchen” who end up spoiling the dish! There are certain job types where the 3+ bids approach may be the best, but for a high end remodel you should strongly consider taking your time and finding the right remodeler for you!