Learning from each bathroom remodeling bid

leveling the playing field

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How to
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Each contractor you invite over for a bid will provide new information, new insight, or new options. You may be talking with your third and final contractor for a bid, and he'll bring up a subject or two that hadn't occurred to you yet. You'll naturally be curious to see what the previous two contractors would say about it.

It's an inevitable part of the process. Obtaining bids is a process, and a very iterative one. Three bids should be enough to cover the range of high medium and low (collecting bids covered in detail later on). It's important that each of these bids cover the exact same options and features.

With each contractor you talk to, your plans could potentially change. Perhaps some bathroom feature you like is more costly than you thought, and breaks the budget. The contractor writes his notes and submits the bid which seems outrageous without explanation. The next contractor might communicate better and explain - feature A or feature B is responsible for a large percentage of the cost. Armed with this information, you can evaluate if the feature is really that important to you. Now, if you change your mind and remove the expensive feature, the previous contractors bid still includes this feature, and is no longer valid

Another scenario - a contractor comes in with some good ideas to compliment what you've already come up with. Now his bid includes different features from previous contractors you've invited over. Personally, a contractor who comes in with good ideas is the one I want to hire, barring an excessively high bid. But proper due diligence and ethics dictate that any change in job spec be run by previous bidders for a chance to compete with an updated bid.

By the time you finish visiting with your third contractor, you should have a good handful of questions, ideas, and modifications from 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.

It's not always new and different ideas that will cause you to change course and require a second pass of bid revisions. Some contractors will do things the minimalist way - the least amount of work to satisfy the requirements and local codes.

Others, are unfortunately a dying breed. They insist on old school craftsmanship techniques that lasts - the type of guy that takes pride in his work, and won't cut corners no matter how much you beg. There's a reason these old guys do things the way they do, and yes, they usually cost more. Again - if it makes sense to you, run the change by the previous bidders to see if they will even do things the old-school way. Don't be afraid to insist on old school, tried and true over quick, easy, and cheap.

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've become a professional amateur. Provided you have any 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, and you're on the right track.

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