10 Ways to Negotiate Pricing with Renovation Contractors

Renovating your home is an exhilarating, yet potentially quite costly, venture. Perhaps even more daunting is that most renovations require knowledge of products, processes and pricing well beyond homeowners’ comfort zones. But when armed with the right amount of research into the scope of a renovation, and time spent communicating with potential professional partners, you can be confident you’re starting your project properly.
For home improvements small to large, these contract negotiation tips will help you secure both the best pricing and the best local contractor for the job.

#1. Do your research

Before you reach out to remodeling contractors, it’s important to have a good understanding of the costs of completing your home renovation. Being familiar with the general costs of your particular project will help in budget negotiations. Be sure to have points of reference to different aspects that affect cost, like labor and materials.

#2. Don’t wait until you desperately need a certain project done

Give yourself plenty of time – and time to save money – to plan a successful home improvement project. When you’re not under pressure to make a quick decision, you can take the time to properly vet potential contractors, and find the best partner and pricing.

#3. Get multiple estimates

Home improvement experts say that it’s best to get at least three general estimates from different companies. This gives you a good basis for price comparison. Reaching out to multiple contractors also gives you the opportunity to interact with a variety of professionals, giving you a sense of their customer service and communication styles.
Remember to give the same project specifications to each contractor, to ensure you’re getting the most comparable estimates possible. Ask that pricing be broken out by material, labor and project as applicable.
To find local professionals, first ask family and friends for any recommendations. Positive feedback goes a long way, and your network of loved ones is a great resource. Regional professional associations, and the Better Business Bureau, are also good places to find qualified contractors.

#4. Take client feedback into account

Unbiased customer feedback is a great way to find out more about a prospective contractor’s ability to deliver services and pricing as promised. You can find customer testimonials on many industry message boards,or online communities like renowaze.com. There, you’ll not only be able to look up customer reviews, but also find past projects, design ideas, and get estimates from general contractors. With a wealth of references and pictures at your fingertips, you can rest assured you’re making the most informed decision possible.

#5. Tell your contractor you are considering multiple proposals

By telling your contractor you’ve got bids from multiple companies, you are letting him or her know that pricing is important to you, and that to get your business, they need to put their best foot forward from a budget perspective. You may not always go with the cheapest offer, but you can be sure you’ve gotten the lowest price possible from the contractor you ultimately choose.

#6. Offer to buy project supplies yourself

Most contractors include renovation supplies within their estimated pricing. You’ll likely be paying some sort of overhead costs on supplies (and perhaps even more, if the contractor isn’t getting the best original pricing on his or her end).
To avoid this budget line item, you could offer to supply the materials needed yourself. Know that if you choose to go this route, you’ll need to work closely with your contractor ensure you’ve ordered enough materials and on time, to keep the project running smoothly. This money-saving measure will cost you in terms of time and attention to detail.

#7. Offer to pay subcontractors directly

Some contractors are willing to let you pay their subcontractors directly, which is another way to trim the overall estimate. When you manage payment for subcontractors, you save the general contractor time and costs associated with payroll.
Alternatively, you could skip hiring a general contractor altogether, and manage the entire renovation yourself. As the project manager, you can then also negotiate your own pricing with subcontractors. This is again, however, a serious time and attention commitment from you.

#8. Ask where spending could be reduced

With most home remodeling and renovation projects, there are areas where you can cut costs. Take design into consideration: for an upcoming kitchen remodel, for example, instead of redesign the entire floor plan, simply update the current features (like the oven, cabinets and flooring) for a striking new look.
When it comes to materials, you can either reduce the needs (for instance, retiling a smaller portion of your kitchen backsplash) or sub the current option with a less expensive version (like choosing butcher block wood or stone-styled laminate in lieu of quartz for your kitchen countertop).

#9. Hire your contractor in the slow season

When there are fewer opportunities to make money, contractors are more willing to negotiate contract pricing. In many places, the late fall and winter months are the off-season for renovation companies – and the holidays are a particular slow time of year. Even if your project can’t be completed until the weather warms up, you might be able to secure current seasonal discounted pricing

#10. Draw up a clear, detailed contract

Once you’ve made your hiring decision, it’s time to get the entire project laid out officially. To help avoid any conflicts once work is underway, make sure all details are clearly outlined: estimated or guaranteed start and end times, subcontractor and labor designations, materials used, and any and all insurance, bonds or warranties applicable.
Another important issue to address in your contract is how any project problems or delays will be handled, should the unforeseen happen (and yes, it happens). This way, you and your general contractor will be on the same page regarding changes in the project timeline and budget.
Throughout the negotiating process, remember to treat your relationship with potential and hired contractors positively, knowing that you are both committed to completing the home renovation successfully. And by keeping these contract negotiation tips in mind, you can be sure you’ve found both the right partner and pricing for the job. With clear goals and detailed expectations, everyone wins!

Disclaimer: All images are provided by the author.

About the writer
Aydoan Armutlu is a passionate blogger on home improvement services and interior design related topics. I write exclusively for Renowaze, which is a rapidly growing home renovations website with a focus on DIY home renovations, contractor services, and interior design. I am always looking to promote fresh perspectives and unique ideas to help educate homeowners make more informed decisions and make their home renovation an enjoyable process. 

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