Tips on Talking Price with Contractors
by Mike, Home Improvement Contractor
When you ask a contractor for a quote to do a siding job, there are several things the homeowner needs to know in order to be able to negotiate a fair price with the contactor.
First are prices, a contractor can buy siding cheaper than you can buy the same product at the big box home improvement stores. But, the savings are very little. So contractors hate it when customers want to ‘buy’ their own siding. It is usually more cost effective to let your contractor buy, haul to the site, and install the siding.
Prices change all the time. You can’t rely on what your friend's friend said he paid for his siding last year. Time of year is import. In peak season siding will cost more, in slow seasons it will cost less, just like any other product. After a big storm prices will go up. So prices change all the time.
As long as you have a pretty good idea what siding is selling for at the time, say in Home Depot or other big box home improvement store, you will be able to tell if the contractor’s prices are in that range.
If the cost of the products is basically the same, why are some contractor's prices higher and some lower?
Labor cost. All houses are different, with a different numbers of corners, over-hangs, condition of the exterior, rot, damage and so on. So a contractor has to come to your home and look at the house and figure how long it will take to install the siding and what all needs to be done to the house to make it ready for the new siding.
Since labor costs are very subjective, it is on this labor cost that most contractors have a little wiggle room and the ability to negotiate with the homeowner on price.
Also the skill level of the contractor is very important. A contractor who is busy, and has many very good job reviews (and pictures) will charge a little more to do the job than a contractor who is just starting and looking for some good reviews.
Installing siding is an art form, and the better the installation the better your house will look when it is done! Always hire the best installer you can afford.
The quality of the siding is very important. Like all products there are good and better products and better products cost a little more. It is very important to have all the contractors you talk to comparing prices on the same products. Otherwise you will not be able to compare the prices apples to apples.
When you call several contractors to give you a price, you should have already done a little research and know what products you are interested in. Ask the contractor to give you a price based using the product you have chosen, and to write down exactly what is including in the installation.
He knows he may have to negotiate his price with you because he knows you have also called two or more other contractors for prices. Make him tell you why his labor prices are what they are.
Good contractors will glad to point out the benefits of using them for one reason or another. It is up to you to sort through the information and pick the one you feel will give you the best job.