Recently I heard about an article written by Sam Dogen, a financial expert for CNBC that states, “Expect your home remodeling to cost 50% more and take 50% longer.” I also read that he had had a poor experience with his own home renovation, so may have been a bit tainted in his view. Frankly, I don’t believe this is an accurate or honest characterization of the entire remodeling industry.
I also read an article by David Pollard (Design/Builder in Chicago) who stated, “The construction industry and buyers have perpetuated a market in which the lowest bidder sets the standard for what a job should cost, creating a misperception of what projects actually cost. This does a huge disservice to both our clientele and our industry.” He also states, “There’s no denying that remodeling and construction trades have been commoditized for decades. While choosing between a better, faster, or cheaper focus leaves most businesses crafting a “better” differentiator, many contractors continue to try to be either cheaper or faster, often believing that being both is the best way to secure work. This leaves them in the position of being the lowest bidder. Low dollars get the job, and then they try to cover the potential losses by either cutting corners or adding charges.”
A remodel will cost more than expected
The operative word here is “expected.” Any remodel will be made up of labor costs, materials, and a design and level of finish that meets or exceeds the homeowners’ expectations. This will vary from contractor to contractor; labor that shows up when they are scheduled and have an excellent level of finish will without doubt cost more than the lowest bidder contractor. As a professional and experienced Design/Build firm, we work hard at setting expectations during the design phase of a job, rather than mid-way through a remodel. This is why we do a Design Retainer at the beginning of the design phase. Our feasibility process helps define exactly what the costs will be. We do all design and selections up front, which is much less expensive in the long run than a contractor who gives “allowances” for products which are rarely realistic for the homeowner. With Corinthian you will have an exact price prior to going to contract, resulting in no budget surprises along the way.
It will take longer to complete the remodel than expected
Similar to costs, many contractors will give an “estimate” of how long the remodel will require to complete. The lower bidder contractor often will not have a thorough scope of work which results in changes to the design on the fly, indecision, and subcontractors who may or may not show up when scheduled. Corinthian uses an online system that includes a calendar and timeline for the beginning of a remodel to the final cleaning. We typically build this schedule based on when products and subcontractors will be available and work backward to create a timeline that is as short as possible with limited delays. Once a remodel is started there is always the chance that the homeowner sees possibilities for additional work. This, in many cases, may add to the timeline, therefore educating the homeowner of this is important, as well as a system that defines how “change orders” are addressed.
For those homeowners searching for the fastest or cheapest, or even the middle bidder, their remodel probably won’t be either fast or cheap no matter what the contractor they hire says. If you are looking for the contractor who brings the most value to your remodel, ask questions to ensure they have the process, the quality end-product, and the best homeowner experience. Look at their processes, their website, their past jobs, and their homeowner reviews to better judge this. No two contractors are the same, but there are some really good one’s; they may just cost a little more than what you’ve been told to expect.