6 Tips for Negotiating with Contractors

Visualize your perfect kitchen or bathroom. Nice, right? Now imagine the process of negotiating with the contractors who built it. Not quite as uplifting, huh? But undertaking a home renovation project doesn’t have to be scary. Once you know the basics of negotiating with contractors, you’ll be on your way to saving money and tackling those home renovations you’ve been dreaming of.

1. Shop Around

Getting a fair price starts with doing a little legwork. You’ll want to secure multiple bids —  usually at least three estimates — which will help ensure that you end up choosing the best contractor at the best price. And let the contractors know that you’re soliciting multiple bids. They’ll be more likely to give you their best offer if they know you’re shopping around.

Once you receive the first round of contractor quotes, don’t just jump at the lowest one. Your choice should be based on other factors, including quality of previous work, reputation, a thorough and thoughtful estimate and, of course, price.  

2. Be Flexible on Supplies

You’ve got your winning bid, but you’d still like to lower the cost. Now it’s time to negotiate with your contractor. Your bid will include all the supplies and materials needed for your project, but most contractors work with one supplier and aren’t shopping for the lowest prices on materials. One alternative could be to purchase the supplies yourself. But proceed with caution — your contractor likely has resources you don’t have access to and can get industry discounts.

If sourcing your own supplies isn’t in the cards, ask about more affordable options. These may include used, clearance or salvaged materials. This could save you big, especially on big ticket items like counter tops and flooring.

3. Tackle the Demolition Yourself

The labor hours for demolition and debris hauling can add up. Ask your contractor if you can take on these duties yourself. Search out the best-value dumpster rental, dust off or purchase the gear you need and get to work.

A word to the wise: Demolition and debris removal can be a big job. Don’t underestimate the time and energy it’ll require. Have an open conversation with your contractor about how feasible it is to take on this work yourself given your experience level.

4. See What You Can DIY

If you’re handy with a paint roller or willing to roll up your sleeves and take on low-skill landscaping, you could cut labor costs. Review the estimate, and negotiate with your contractor over the ways you can take on some of the work and do it yourself.

5. Be Honest About Your Budget

If the quoted price is beyond your budget, say so. Perhaps you have underestimated the cost of your project, or maybe the contractor just isn’t working with the price range you have in mind. Ask your contractor how you can create a plan that gives you the look and feel you want at a price you can afford.

Things like using less custom work and skipping time-intensive aspects of the renovation (such as moving plumbing or changing the entire layout of a room) may get you to a better price point.

6. Think Seasonally

Ask your contractor what discount you can get by waiting for his or her slow season. The winter months are often slower for construction teams, so you may be able to get a deal by waiting until then. Spring through early summer can be a busier time of year, so don’t plan for a May start date if you’re looking to minimize costs.

Whether your home is recently remodeled or not, it still needs to be protected. Reach out to your local Farm Bureau agent and make sure you have the coverage you need.