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The Variability in Home Remodeling Estimates

Old hands counting coins preparing for a home remodeling estimate

Understanding Home Remodel Estimates

One of the most difficult parts of our job is helping homeowners understand why their home remodel will cost them more than they anticipated. With the advent of home remodeling websites that connect you with area professionals and give you a ballpark estimate for the cost of repairs, we find homeowners much more knowledgeable in certain areas of their project and misled in others. This often leads to miscommunication or suspicion when homeowners receive home remodel estimates that are higher than “your local average,” especially when these numbers make it appear that homeowners are being cheated in the process.

Comparing Home Improvement Costs

What are the major issues we face with these systems? Firstly, the generic cost category for each remodel doesn’t take into account the age or shape of a home and overly simplifies the costing for the project at hand. Second, the costing estimators only take into account projects where severe outliers are removed from their calculation, giving a skewed perspective on project costs. This process helps make these systems possible, but can greatly mislead homeowners on the cost of their individual circumstances.

Top 3 Factors to Home Project Estimates

Let’s discuss the top 3 factors that can affect the cost of a homeowners project:

  1. First, let’s address the “Is it possible…” question. The answer is nearly always yes. Unfortunately, this yes comes with a caveat – how much are you willing to spend to reach your goal? Many times what seems like a simple wall removal, for example, requires complete reconfiguration of the supporting structure to ensure the safety of the home and can drive expenses much higher than anticipated.
  2. Prior Construction Techniques– Perhaps the largest variabilities in remodel estimates (and why we personally insist on giving estimates on-site) is the original construction practices used to create the build. In many municipalities, original building plans are not reviewed during inspections, which creates many opportunities for contractors to substitute product and material that was not approved by the original engineers in the hopes they get a pass and can save some money. This can lead to a lot of rework for firms that build only to code as they will need to take into account the expected work required to complete the project correctly, while simultaneously fixing the work done previously.
  3. Administrative Costs – Permits, licensing, and engineering drawings are a necessary component of our industry. The purpose of these components of a project are to: 1. ensure the safety of your home’s remodel or build and 2. to ensure taxation is properly applied to the improvements on your home. The process to even begin a project requires extensive leg-work and the cost and timeline can vary greatly from municipality to municipality.

Home Construction Bids – How to find the best contractor for your project

So what do you do if you’re shocked by your contractors bid? The first thing you should do is ask for an itemized list of the costs of the job. A respectable contractor will be transparent and open about the cost of the work and should provide these details to you with an acceptable explanation. If nothing else, this will give you thorough estimate that you can compare with others on hand to select the best contracting partner.

Do not, under any circumstances, begin your project without the proper administrative procedures (permitting, licensing, etc.) as the repercussions can greatly out-weigh the short-term benefit. Here in Colorado, if your home is on the market without the proper permitting and is disclosed to the Building Office, you can be forced to tear down all authorized work and even lose occupancy of your home until the work is completed correctly.

Finally, always get more than one bid to compare different approaches and the cost of work. If you find drastic differences in the quotes, give the contractors a chance to explain why there is so much variability in the estimate. Reviewing multiple bids can also show areas where one contractor may have missed work that was necessary for completing the project. If you are preparing for a home remodeling project and wish to understand financing and how we handle the process, check out out https://vigeoconstruction.com/financing-home-remodeling-projects/. /J