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Collecting bids from contractors

Normalizing bids to level the playing field between contractor offerings

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Complicating matters, is the fact that with each and every contractor you have in to talk to and bid will provide new information, new insight, or new option. You may be talking to your third and final contractor for bid, and he will bring up a subject or two that you will be curious about an answer from the previous two contractors.

It's inevitable. Part of the process. Indeed, obtaining bids is a process, and an iterative process. Three bids should be enough to cover the range, and other resources are devoted here to selecting which contractor to work with.

And with each contractor you talk to, your plans will potentially change. Perhaps some bathroom feature you wanted is more costly than you thought, and breaks the budget. The contractor takes notes and makes the bid which seems outrageous. The next contractor might mention that your plans are good, but this one minor feature is going to account for one major part of the cost.

Or probably one contractor talks about ideas and options more than previous ones. While normally, the contractor with the good ideas gets the job. Unless his ideas are unpalatable, and barring excessive bid, the contractor with the best ideas and information is usually the one you'll feel most comfortable with, and is therefore, awarded the job.

While this is also the more ethical way to go, there are no doubt, very legitimate reasons that you might prefer one of the contractors that brings less to the proverbial table in terms of ideas and information.

By th time you finish visiting with your third contractor, you should have a good handful of questions, ideas, and modifications to the original plan. You want to run all of these line items by each of the previous contractors who came before. Find out what they think too, give them a chance to modify their bid.

If later contractors do something the old school, tried and true way, it's probably preferred. For example, using cement backer board vs floating a bed of mortar prior to tile installation. We really liked the first contractor that we talked to, be he only floated the shower stall, not the floor. Didn't like that idea, and told the wife - 'if we specify the floor be floated, then he'll float the floor' - Don't be afraid to insist on old school, tried and true over quick and easy.

To be sure, the bidding process is an iterative one. For us average joe types, the learning starts with the first contractor you invite in. By the time you've talked to your third contractor, you're becoming an a professional amateur. Provided that you still have interest in your first and second bid contractors, you'll want to talk to them again about any new plans or questions - anything that may add or remove expense from the budget.



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