Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

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a
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Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby a » Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:45 am

The work is walling off a currently open-access space
to create a new reasonably soundproof bedroom. The open-access space
currently has two accesses. The first contractor, whom I have decided
to work with, gave a quote for walling off one of the accesses, and placing
double doors in the other access. His description:
"Installation of doors, drywall and trim prep and paint,
install baseboard prep and paint. $3,300 no materials included."
The other contractor gave a quote for putting _folding_ doors in both accesses:
"2 sets of folding doors. Framing, trim and painting = $3,200. All parts
except the actual doors themselves included."

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Tycoon
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby Tycoon » Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:50 am

I would request a detailed bid, including materials and labor, from both contractors and compare them.
C'est la vie

adamthesmythe
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby adamthesmythe » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:16 am

Tycoon wrote:I would request a detailed bid, including materials and labor, from both contractors and compare them.


I've heard this advice before and I'm not buying it.

If I were a contractor I would put this at the bottom of the to-do list. Maybe would never get around to it at all. What would you do with the list- argue about the price of drywall? Say that it takes 4 hours not 5? You really only care about the total cost (and quality, etc. of the job).

I think you might get somewhere by asking if the cost could be reduced by eliminating something (or including an excluded item).

I would be happy to hear from those who have had success with requesting a detailed bid.

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Tycoon
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby Tycoon » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:25 am

I've done it several times. Bathrooms, roof(s), air-conditioner, and any project that I'm paying for. I do it at work too! To date I haven't had an issue with a contractor not giving me a detailed break down.
C'est la vie

MondayMorningQB
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby MondayMorningQB » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:28 am

Find a local handyman carpenter and get him to do it.

renue74
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby renue74 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:34 am

Why did you decide to go with contractor #1? Was it because he comes with better references? You know him? You know his work?
Most likely if he's popular...he's busy these days. Which means he's probably also has premium prices.

I'm with the other poster....asking for a detailed quote is like saying, "I'm a high maintenance customer....you want to work with me?"

I design websites for a living and have 4 rental properties that I own and maintain as a side gig. When I provide a website quote, I provide a lot of details because I don't want to get into feature creep with a client. But, to be honest, they never read the details...just look at the price and turnaround. I can tell, because they ask questions that were answered in the project details.

As far as the your project...you're looking at about 2 days of work from this contractor....plus they have to source the materials, which is more time.

In my town, if it's a load bearing wall, they actually have to pull a permit if any work is done on a LBW....though, I think most contractors wouldn't for a small project this size.

staythecourse
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby staythecourse » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:59 am

I think it is definetly reasonable to ask and expect a breakdown of labor and material. I would think any "professional" contractor would do that as part of the SOP. It usually goes something like this: Call person who you are interested in doing the work, they come out and take a look at the area to make sure they are on the same page (some take pics), and then write a DETAILED breakdown of costs and email it to you. The exact breakdown only benefits the contractor from arguments/ legal issues down the road. Then you choose to go with him or her.

I am not that big of an advocate of asking to lower costs as it usually means they just use less quality material or cheaper/ inexperienced labor. They work on making x% profit off the job and they will continue to do that but material and workmanship suffer which means you suffer.

The most interesting is that bids can vary A LOT and not always based on abilities. When I did some remodeling work on our past home the lowest bids came from the 2 contractors who had the best reviews. Not sure if that has to do with their current schedules and how interested or what.

After building a house there is only one thing I have learned about the construction industry and that is I still don't understand their motivations in many of their decision making. Many times they would nitpick on a small issue, but have no problem giving thousands of dollars of extras without charge. Maybe bookkeeping needs to be tightened up.

Good luck.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby Sandtrap » Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:51 pm

a wrote:The work is walling off a currently open-access space
to create a new reasonably soundproof bedroom. The open-access space
currently has two accesses. The first contractor, whom I have decided
to work with, gave a quote for walling off one of the accesses, and placing
double doors in the other access. His description:
"Installation of doors, drywall and trim prep and paint,
install baseboard prep and paint. $3,300 no materials included."
The other contractor gave a quote for putting _folding_ doors in both accesses:
"2 sets of folding doors. Framing, trim and painting = $3,200. All parts
except the actual doors themselves included."


Retired commercial building contractor here.
Why do you want the contractor to lower his quote? Specifically?
One contractor has given a quote that is labor only. So you purchase all materials.
Second contractor has a partial material/labor quote.
Why not either get a time/materials detailed estimate, with progress payments at various stages of completion, and completion date?
Or, purchase the materials yourself, have them delivered if needed, and hire a "reputable" carpenter and pay him by the hour.
This is a very small job. Demo,frame,finish out,paint.
Licensed building contractors may not bother with it if they are good and busy, also profit margin small.
Junk or marginal contractors that are not that reputable and not that busy might be more interested.
But, a reputable carpenter may find it a perfect size to fill in a weekend from bigger jobs. YMMV.

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Kosmo
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby Kosmo » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:55 pm

You have poorly defined requirements. You know the end result you want achieved, but have not specified which tasks are done to accomplish it. But you've asked contractors to price out those tasks. Which work do you want to get done- Wall off 1 entrance and add a door or install 2 folding doors? Or something else?

Asking for a detailed breakdown of the quote is pointless for 2 reasons: 1) they provided quotes for different jobs. Decide what you want and have both bid on that work. 2) contractor 1 already gave the breakdown. His labor is $3300 for the task he quoted. You buy the materials and have them waiting when he arrives. Or he buys the materials at ~150% cost to cover his time spent getting them. Also doing drywall is more time consuming so it'll cost more.

You really have no basis to ask him to lower his quote.

As an aside- have you considered schedule? How quickly do you need this done? How quickly can they get you on their schedule? What's the work time line?

a
Posts: 272
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 1:00 pm

Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby a » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:43 pm

Thank you very much for the responses. I have learned
about what it's like working as an individual carpenter/contractor
as well as heard several interesting insights.

We went with contractor #1 because a friend recommended him and
because in the past we didn't follow up with him that well on a
previous inquiry and feel a bit bad about it.

As for why ask, my spouse wanted to make sure we weren't paying
an inflated price. We won't ask him to lower his price now.

Thank you for the suggestion to consider schedule also as an
important factor in choosing a contractor.

Rodc
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby Rodc » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:00 pm

staythecourse wrote:I think it is definetly reasonable to ask and expect a breakdown of labor and material. I would think any "professional" contractor would do that as part of the SOP. It usually goes something like this: Call person who you are interested in doing the work, they come out and take a look at the area to make sure they are on the same page (some take pics), and then write a DETAILED breakdown of costs and email it to you. The exact breakdown only benefits the contractor from arguments/ legal issues down the road. Then you choose to go with him or her.

I am not that big of an advocate of asking to lower costs as it usually means they just use less quality material or cheaper/ inexperienced labor. They work on making x% profit off the job and they will continue to do that but material and workmanship suffer which means you suffer.

The most interesting is that bids can vary A LOT and not always based on abilities. When I did some remodeling work on our past home the lowest bids came from the 2 contractors who had the best reviews. Not sure if that has to do with their current schedules and how interested or what.

After building a house there is only one thing I have learned about the construction industry and that is I still don't understand their motivations in many of their decision making. Many times they would nitpick on a small issue, but have no problem giving thousands of dollars of extras without charge. Maybe bookkeeping needs to be tightened up.

Good luck.


I had a second story put on my house, plus a bunch of work on the first floor. Pretty big job. I worked great with the contractor, in particular making quick sensible decisions when something had to change so he could keep charging ahead on the work. So he tossed in some really nice things for free. But charged extra when I asked for a simple change to some bathroom electrical, before any wiring was even run. Go figure.

To the OP: he quoted you a price. I think it is very unlikely he is going to now give you a lower price for the same job. If you change the scope to make the job smaller sure.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

bigred77
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby bigred77 » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:08 pm

I would probably call back the contractor you want to work with and say he was highly recommended by a friend but the other bids came in cheaper. You want to work with him, but are going to ask if he can perform the job for $3k flat, plus materials.

I don't see anything wrong with negotiating for a better price. I will say that I've had this backfire on me once when we hired out a larger job (to me anyway) where the contractor agreed to $7,500 when the initial quote was $9,000. The guy walked away from an unfinished job because I think he had already ran through $7,500 and finishing the job would have just left him with a loss. (I had been paying on a draw schedule, I think I paid him about 6k total to that point). We had to find and hire a second guy to come in and finish it up. It was a huge headache.

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deanbrew
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby deanbrew » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:26 pm

My brother is a contractor. Most of the time, he gives non-detailed quotes, or just quotes Time & Materials and his rates for himself and his workers.

As mentioned, this is a pretty small job. Just the kind of job my brother would like to fill in a gap in his schedule, or for a few days when the weather is crappy. The price might very well vary depending on whether the client needed it done quickly or could wait until the contractor could fit it in.

I don't see anything wrong with negotiating for a better price. I will say that I've had this backfire on me once when we hired out a larger job (to me anyway) where the contractor agreed to $7,500 when the initial quote was $9,000. The guy walked away from an unfinished job because I think he had already ran through $7,500 and finishing the job would have just left him with a loss. (I had been paying on a draw schedule, I think I paid him about 6k total to that point). We had to find and hire a second guy to come in and finish it up. It was a huge headache.


You don't see anything wrong with negotiating a "better" price, and then be left hanging with an incomplete job? Or annoying a contractor so much that he was willing to walk away partway through?

I wouldn't try to negotiate a lower price, other than perhaps mentioning that you are in no hurry and is there a discount for letting the contractor fit it in his schedule. I probably wouldn't even do that, though. Trying to nickel and dime will just result in hurt feelings and resentment, which could result in substandard work, an unwillingness to come back to fix anything, or hesitation to work for you again. There is something to be said for working relationships of this sort.
"The course of history shows that as the government grows, liberty decreases." Thomas Jefferson

ralph124cf
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Re: Should I ask this contractor to lower his quote?

Postby ralph124cf » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:42 pm

For a job this small and this simple, I would prefer to hire based on time and materials. You can get a good handyman/carpenter for $40-$60/hour in most parts of the country (not New York city).

Ralph


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