Blog: Contractor Chatter

Should you pay for a contractor estimate?

The cost of free estimates: Should you pay for a contractor estimate?

Free estimates are becoming more common than ever before in Seattle and Bellevue.  This is due to new companies and remodeling contractors seeking to capture your business. They want to incite you with that buzz word… FREE.  The prospect of receiving an estimate on your project for free can of course be extremely tempting.  Even more so if you are trying to stick within a tight budget.  Here’s what you have to remember, and you already know this: You always get what you pay for.

The cold hard facts

When trying to find a contractor who offers free estimates, you WILL find exactly what you looking for, a tradesman who is willing to give it away.  What makes matters worse is that consumers typically end up getting exactly what you pay for.  This comes in the form of:

  1. Cost overruns after the agreement has been signed, and
  2. Undue project-related stress that will be placed on your shoulders.

One homeowner said, “my contractor should have paid me for having to deal with him.”   So, saving a little money with a free estimate WILL mean you may end up paying more elsewhere.

“Construction firms often make unrealistically low bids to get jobs… but they can count on finding plenty of reasons later to jack the price up enough to allow for a profit.  When the building is underway, it becomes prohibitively expensive to fire the contractor and start anew.  The owner has become a hostage.” Wall Street Journal, 12/05/07

Free estimates could cost you

When a contractor provides free estimates, they are working for free.  They are setting aside time that they could have been spending on other money-earning projects. Now let’s be honest here.  Have you ever been asked to work overtime with NO PAY?  If you agreed to it, how hard would you work at the task at hand?  My guess is that efforts and motivation would be at an all-time low.

As such, they are incentivized to complete the free estimate quickly and return to their regular work. Rushed work, of course, often results in imperfect or unsatisfactory results. Indeed, statistics have shown that only 33% of contractors are accurately pricing their projects. As a result of these inaccuracies, over 71% of projects are being completed over budget.  We are not making this up and the stats don’t lie:

Free Estimates Stats

The odds just aren’t in your favor

Once you get trapped in a budget-busting home improvement situation you will pay more than the price quoted.  You, the customer, are going to have to eat that additional, unexpected cost. Though this result is very undesirable, it is the harsh reality.  This has been the experience of countless customers who have chosen contractors offering those free estimates.  But hey, at least their estimate was delivered quickly.  Maybe that was due to the fact that little work went into providing those numbers.  However, unexpected expenses and mismanaged projects do not need to be in the cards for you. There is another way.

A professional estimate for professional results

At High Tech Pacific Builders, we believe that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right. As such, we always encourage our customers to consider paying for a professional estimate on any project. Costs are usually fairly minimal, relative to the overall project. Not to mention, most contractor that offer estimating as a service will credit the preliminary cost towards your project.  More importantly, by spending a little extra money upfront, you can potentially save yourself hundreds, or even thousands of dollars in the long run.

The data proves it: A contractor places more thought and attention into your estimate if they are being paid to do so.  They know their time and expertise is valuable and they tend to work with individuals who value their time.  We know to be true because we have been in this industry for a long time and this has been our experience time and time again.

When a company charges a fee for an estimate, this allows them to dedicate more of their time and manpower to the project at hand – whatever that may be. This, in turn, means that they are able to do much more research, negotiating, and price planning on your behalf. The net result of this additional planning time is almost always a better planned, more affordable project that is much more likely to stay within the originally stated budget.

The phrase, “measure twice and cut once” is often cited in the construction and contracting industries, and it holds true when discussing estimates. By paying for your estimate, you are metaphorically (and literally) giving your contractor the opportunity to measure as many times as they need to so that they do not make any potentially costly errors in calculation.

The HTP Builders difference

For anyone considering working with a remodeling contractor in the Seattle and Bellevue areas, look no further than High Tech Pacific Builders. With seven decades of experience in the Pacific Northwest, HTP Builders has the experience and know-how to be able to promise customers a well planned, well budgeted, and most importantly well built project.

During the estimating process in particular, customers can expect our team to spend as much time as necessary doing the measuring, calculations, negotiating with suppliers, and planning needed to ensure that your project runs as smoothly as possible.

If you are planning on beginning a home remodeling project in the coming months and would like to arrange a professional estimate by High Tech Pacific Builders, please reach out to us at any time. You can reach us by phone at (425) 518-5855 or just contact us online.

Have you ever experienced a home remodeling nightmare caused by bad planning? Let us know in the comments below – and of course don’t forget to subscribe and share with your friends and family.

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