Tips on Talking Price with Contractors

by Mike, Home Improvement Contractor
(Tampa, FL)

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.

Tampa Fl

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Oct 14, 2015
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Sep 25, 2015
Tips on Talking Price with Contractors
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Jan 16, 2015
Do your homework.
by: Joe, Staff Writer

Why are the price quotes you get so different from contractors doing the same job? Homework.

I have had homeowners ask me why they get such big differences in the three price quotes they get from contractors.

When you call two or three contractors for a price, and get huge differences in prices and have no idea why, most-likely that means that the homeowner did not do their home-work and ask the contractor the right questions.

When you ask a contractor for a price quote to install new vinyl siding on your house, he knows that you have most likely called two other contractors to also get their prices. Lots of the time homeowner will choose the lowest price first. The contractor knows he only has a one in three chance of getting your job. He will want to give you the lowest price possible to beat out the competition.

The question is always 'where' can he cut from the job to make money?. The quality of the siding is one area where prices differ greatly. Economy brands run around $3 per square foot but premium grades run $10 or more. What grade do you think he will use if he is trying to cut costs? If you don't know the difference you will most likely to get the economy brand. Or he could put the new hires on your project and use the more experienced installers on his other jobs.

What is it really worth to save a few hundred dollars on a job that large? Most good vinyl sidings now come with 50+ year warranties, so you always want to use the very best products that fit your budget. You will live in your home for a long time and what it looks like for decades should be important to you.

When you are talking to several different contractors for a project, it is most important to have some working knowledge of the products you are interested in. For vinyl siding, you should have already measured your house and know your square footage.

Once you know how much siding you need you can very easily go to one of the local Home Depot and quickly compare prices on several different sidings.

If you need 2,000 sq ft of siding; the economy brand at Home Depot is $3 sq ft, and the premium brand is $7, you can determine your basic budget, $6,000 to $14,000. Choose the one that best fits your needs. You may settle on a $5 sq ft one that does everything that you want it to. But at least now you know what you want and approximately what you are going to pay.

The next most important thing is be sure to tell each contractor exactly what you want; example; you are interested in a heavy residential grade at least .046 thick and a clapboard style with cedar wood texture, in an earth tone color.
Now the contractor can help you select the right product for your house. He may have suggestions using similar or better products because he does this all the time. More importantly he can give you a realistic price quote because he knows exactly what you are looking for and exactly what you expect.

I call this pre-modeling. Have a good idea of what you want, and a pretty good idea of what other homeowners in your area are paying for similar items. When you know these things you can intelligently talk to contractors and can easily tell which contractor has your best interest in mind. You may end up paying a little more but you will certainly end up getting more.

Joe, Staff Writer all about

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