Is A Free, Exterior Home Remodeling Estimate Worth It?

Home remodeling companies have been debating the wisdom of offering free estimates to their customers for years. Some feel that giving an initial, no-charge quote is simply the cost of doing business and continue to offer them for all but the most complex projects. Others feel that if they put the time, research and effort…

Home remodeling companies have been debating the wisdom of offering free estimates to their customers for years. Some feel that giving an initial, no-charge quote is simply the cost of doing business and continue to offer them for all but the most complex projects. Others feel that if they put the time, research and effort into preparing a proposal, they should be compensated for it. Many companies today take a middle of the road approach: for most jobs, they will give a quote based on the general outline of what the customer wants, but will only offer a detailed, specific final price after they've been awarded the project and are ready to order supplies. The amount of time and effort that goes into a bid can vary broadly from job to job, so be aware of what each one covers in order to choose the right company for your home remodeling job.

The Value Of A Free Estimate Hinges On Several Factors

Not all bids or proposals are created equal. One may include detailed cost breakdowns while another simply offers a ballpark figure for the job as a whole. Generally, the more complex the job, the more detailed the estimate should be. Providing a quote for installing a single replacement window will be relatively simple compared to putting together a proposal for adding an addition and landscaping a large expanse of property. As more variables (cost of materials, variety of contractors needed, etc.) come into play, the cost of preparing an accurate quote will naturally go up.

Understanding The Word “Estimate”

The best home remodeling companies will be upfront about any quotes they give potential customers. The word “estimate” is used because the proposal they give you is not carved in stone. There is no realistic way to predict unforeseen problems that could have arise after you've chosen a contractor and work has begun. For the most part, a company will base a quote on using “typical” materials for the task at hand. Depending on whether you opt for luxury grade materials or budget materials, the final price could go up or down. If a contractor discovers that there is hidden dry rot or a damaged foundation, they may have to revise their bid. Keep all of these things in mind when looking at any quote.

Why Do Some Home Remodeling Companies Continue to Give Free Estimates?

Many home improvement contractors continue to provide free quotes because it is a great way to market their products and services. They consider the time they spend writing up a proposal and giving you a price time well spent because it is included in the cost of doing business. They can establish rapport with potential customers, explain the quality of the services and make suggestions that homeowners will find helpful. It also gives homeowners a starting point for assessing whether they can afford the home improvements they are considering. Many contractors also point out that if home remodeling specialists stop providing free estimates, it will discourage healthy competition between companies. Individuals who have to pay every contractor who gives them a quote may end up seeking fewer bids. Crippling potential customers financially before their projects are started does not help anyone, including the homeowner.

When you're ready to compare bids for your next exterior home remodeling project, talk to at least three local contractors and ask for a quote. When you review them, be sure to ask questions in order to clarify any areas that are unclear so that you can make a fair comparison. Today's finest contractors continue to offer free estimates so that everyone knows what to expect and no one gets any unpleasurable surprises.