Risks You Take Hiring the Low Bidder in Home Remodeling

There are typically 2 types of remodeling contractors that provide the lowest bid:

  1. They don’t have enough experience to properly bid your project
  2. They know lots of shortcuts on quality that you won’t notice until it is too late

Hello, my name is Gary Houghton and I set up my company to deliver exceptional customer service and outstanding quality on every project instead. I am not trying to become one of the biggest home remodeling contractors in Central New Jersey. We provide home remodeling services in Central, NJ with a focus on kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, additions and whole house renovations.

If you are like most of our clients the home remodeling project you are thinking about is a big deal and likely to be something you have been dreaming about since you bought your home.

The information on this page is provided to help homeowners avoid hiring a contractor that will frustrate you with poor quality or leave you with a half-finished project.

Most homeowners only tackle a major remodeling project once in their life.

  • Inexperienced remodeling contractors don’t have the experience to know all the things that are needed to complete a quality project. This means they almost always underestimate the amount of labor needed to do each task. When this happens, they will be forced to take shortcuts to “make it work”. This is never good. Often they will ask for more money and if your home is torn apart you won’t feel like you have a choice.
  • Unscrupulous contractors know you won’t know where to look to find their shortcuts. They don’t plan on working for you again so they can take advantage of your inexperience. Their shortcuts on quality won’t show up right away but they will eventually. Getting them to come back even during the warranty period will be a hassle.
  • Sometimes the nicest contractors will have the least experience and will promise to include everything you are asking for at a “surprisingly low price”.
  • Once the demolition is done and they realize they didn’t charge enough you will be forced to either fire them or pay a lot more than you expected.

That is a fair question. Can’t you hold them to the price? Not very likely.

It is more likely that they will demand more money once they complete the demolition and all you have are studs. If you pay up front they can walk off the job especially if you gave them a big deposit.

It can really look attractive to take the lowest bid on a home remodeling project because the “savings” will seem too good to pass up. This is especially true if the bid is less than the amount you thought you would have to spend.

Before you sign any proposal consider the following information carefully.

  1. Some contractors will simply throw out a low bid to grab you. Then the negotiations will start. Ethical contractors don’t work that way. They will provide their best price up front and will include all the details on materials and installation methods.
  2. Bids that are 10% or more below other bids can’t be the same job. A 10% profit is a solid profit on a quality job. If their bid is 10% or more below other bids it would mean they are working for free and no one does that. In order to make money they will substitute lower quality materials and take shortcuts on installation to save labor. This allows them to still make money at your expense.
  3. Kitchen cabinets can cost $10,000 or high end cabinets can be $50,000 for the same kitchen. Installation costs for either cabinet will be essentially the same. Some low bidders will offer a “private label” cabinet with “all the features of the high end cabinet at a much lower cost”. The reality is that they will still make money because they are buying these inferior cabinets at a deep discount and charging you a premium price. Most will look good but will start to fall apart (probably right after the warranty is up.) Check out the reputation and warranty of all material and appliance suppliers before you buy. At a minimum, if you can’t find a website don’t buy their cabinets.
  4. Low bidders often save money because they aren’t insured or they are only carrying the bare minimum of coverage. They take the chance that “nothing bad will happen”. This means that you could end up with a nasty claim on your homeowner’s insurance if someone gets hurt on the job.

If you do a Google search there will be some unbelievable stories about unethical contractors that offered a price that was “so good we couldn’t pass it up”.

There are many more ways the lowest bidder can take advantage of your inexperience and still make money at your expense. Don’t be fooled, if a bid looks too good to be true, it is.

Windows – Low bidders love bargain windows. This is primarily because you won’t realize the problems until the installation is complete and you have lived with the new windows for a while. Bargain windows (10 windows for $999 etc.) are never a bargain.

You will spend a lot more in energy and incur more repair issues in the long run than the up-front “savings”. Well-made windows are custom manufactured to fit each opening. This ensures the proper sealing of the opening.

There is a process to properly install your new windows. If the proper techniques and materials are not used there may be air leaks and water damage caused by the improper installation.

Sheetrock and Drywall – Nails pop and seams will begin to show up as soon as the weather changes and then it’s too late. Most of these problems are impossible to fix without starting over. Low bidders may use cheap sheetrock from China and that can have some very serious health consequences for your family.

Kitchen Cabinets – As we pointed out above you can spend $10,000 or $50,000 on kitchen cabinets for the same project. Here are some of the typical problems with “knock-offs”: doors will warp or won’t fit flush, drawers fall apart, tracks and hinges come loose.

A bigger issue is in measuring. Inexperienced carpenters won’t know how to take the right measurements. When the cabinets arrive they will need to “make them fit” and this takes time and will result in a mediocre installation.

Stone Surfaces – This is another area where there is a wide range of pricing. Granite and Marble can look awesome when done properly but they must be measured correctly to create the proper fit. You can’t recut a piece of granite or marble if the measurements are wrong. The installer will need to use bigger seams to make up for errors in measuring and this makes the whole project look like an amateur did the work.

Framing – Walls that are not plumb will cause endless problems with the drywall, moldings, casements and other trim work. The cabinets and trim work won’t be flush with the wall or ceiling. The gaps will be almost impossible to fill and it will just look horrible even to the untrained eye.

HVAC – This is one more area where the low bidder can make money by installing a “no-name” brand. An inefficient or inadequate unit can be a lot more expensive in the long run. The cost of energy is likely to keep going up and the energy efficiency (SEER) rating will have a direct impact on your monthly utility bill. A properly designed and installed system will have enough capacity for your home and will be balanced properly so all rooms will feel comfortable.

Plumbing – Cheap plumbing components, especially the ones behind the walls can begin to leak and cause long term damage to floors, walls and ceilings. Leaks can create mold issues and mold is very expensive to remediate and can lead to insurability issues.

Roofing – Most homeowners don’t know how to inspect a new roof and few will get up on a roof to inspect it. The low bidder will use this to their advantage. There are almost 30 inspection points that should be checked on each roof installation to ensure a quality installation. An improper or incomplete installation will create problems with wind, snow and rain. This can create leaks that may result in damage to drywall, cabinets, carpet and more.

Paint – A professional paint job can put the finishing touch on a great project. There is a big difference in the final look if the proper number of coats has been applied and if quality paint is used. If the surface preparation work is not done properly you will end up with uneven seams and lines from the rolling brush…trim work that is sloppy looks even worse when it is painted.

We recommend that you use all the information on our website to make your decision and to find the perfect company to work with. By doing your homework and completing your screening process BEFORE you sign a contract you’re ensuring that your dream project won’t become a nightmare.

If you are comfortable with the information and education we are offering, please call me at (609) 584-8801 to schedule a first meeting. Prior to the meeting I will provide you with a complete copy of our consumer checklist and a sample of the amount of detail we include with every proposal.

I encourage you to review “How Can I Find a Top Home Remodeling Contractor in Central NJ ?” I am confident that you will find the information helpful.

I appreciate this opportunity to demonstrate our award winning process for completing home remodeling and home improvement projects.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to working with you.