Do you provide free estimates?
I get this question a lot; do you do free estimates? The answer is, No, we provide budget ranges based on our detailed discussions. We think kitchen or bathroom remodeling “estimates” are worthless to you as a homeowner. Estimates should be based on your scope of work and specific product selections . Considerable product specification is required in order to properly provide a scope of work and cost estimates for kitchens and bathrooms otherwise they are simply a guess.
I prefer to focus our resources on providing you with valued information that has been based on your individual wants and needs. I find providing you with reliable budgeting cost information then working together to make the best decisions gives you the greatest control over the quality of materials and ultimately the final cost of the project.
That’s why we structure our process around first getting the planning and specification done and then providing a fixed price for the work. We never enter into a contract for work without the entire scope of the project being decided, this prevents you from feeling as though you have lost the control over the cost of your project.
Our first step is the phone consultation, once I understand your project then we can set up the easiest and most accurate way to get you the cost information you need.
Anatomy of an Estimate
1. The Details or “Scope” of work has been determined in order for estimate to have accuracy.
2. Product to be used has been selected or is not incorporated
3. May or may not take place in your home depending on work to be done
4. There is zero value to the estimate if 1 and 2 has not been determined. Without those two its a "WAG" wild arse guess.
5. Next step is usually sending you off to see their approved vendors
6. Typically lasts 30-45 minute
An example of an estimate as it relates to kitchen and bath remodeling would be; costs to install a specific cabinet layout, install a defined amount of tile or flooring, painting a particular area and may or may not include a generic (unrelated to your wants and needs) dollar amounts placed on materials. You want to avoid making your buying decision from the “free estimate” particularly if your project has a lot of variances built into it. This can be when the cost can be greatly influenced by decisions yet to be made making the estimate not worth your time. An estimate is more of a commodity, you should be able to have 3 professionals create 3 duplicate estimates so you can determine the best value. An estimate can be an extremely valuable tool if you treat it as a “bid” process but it only works if all the details; scope of work, materials have been determined. Use this for task based pricing.
Anatomy of a Consultation
1. You meet with a licensed and/or certified professional referred to as consultant.
2. Wants and Needs analysis is performed with you in your home
3. Professional is more interested in the development of your project scope so that accurate costs can be determined
4. Ideas and advice is offered based on their experience and your wants, needs, and budget
5. Budget ranges can be developed but are dependent on final design development
6. Next step is usually a Design or Project Development Service retainer
7. Can take place at their place of business or in your home
8. Typically lasts 1 ½-2 hours
9. Usually involves a fee for their time.
A consultation is a deeper discussion into the features and functions you want from your room's remodel. By discussing your specific wants and needs specific elements and ideas can be shared. The more details discussed the better information can be provided. A consultation is an excellent tool to find a professional, you get to develop the know, like and trust factor which helps guide you through the process of designing your remodel and developing your scope. It is also a great tool to use to begin to educate and build your project’s budget range. An experienced pro will offer advice on the appropriate budget and the ways in which to save costs. Consultations with the contractor and/or the designer versus a sales rep saves valuable time and produces more accurate costing models because they are going to be the one guiding you through the planning phases.
Understanding What You Need
Understanding the differences will help you make the first important decision in the remodel process; who should I talk too about my remodeling questions. If you want help budgeting your remodel then the consultation format is going to give you a lot more information. If you know what you want but need someone to do the work then the estimate will be advantageous. Either way by simply asking during the initial phone conversation, what is included in their “Free Estimate" you will be able to quickly separate the contractors who are focused on providing a generic or task related price to those that are there to educate and guide the process. Both are valuable but for different needs in your process.
Free vs. Paid
The truth is there is no such thing as “Free” . It might be “Free” to you at the time but it is costing the professionals actual money to offer any “Free” services. That business cost is taken into consideration once you become a paying customer. The cost burden of the estimator in your home gets added into the overhead for the company, not just for your estimate but all the estimates that are done annually then become part of the cost of overhead for your project. Industry experts will charge for their time and they work hard to provide you with maximum value. John and I are both highly trained in design and construction, our business is set up so that you have access to both of us. Remodeling is a significant investment, a small fee is money well spent when you get a smart industry experts into your home to help guide you at the earliest stages.
What To Watch
Be watchful for those who waste your time providing no real value in advice, guidance or information, whether it be free or paid. If an estimate or budget is discussed you should gain clarity regarding what tasks have and have not been specifically considered, provide additional resources to check out, and generally help you to understand the process and next steps.
Too much focus on who they are or what they want is a sales call.
Time is one of the most valuable resources you have these days; I recommend protecting it.