FAQS - The Three Bid Myth
If you needed heart surgery, would you consider asking three surgeons to submit bids and then go with the lowest price? The rhetorical answer is an emphatic "NO". However, many homeowners think nothing of paying out tens of thousands of dollars and opening up their home to a re-modeler they have selected based solely on his price.
Who you hire to do a job can have a definite effect on your family's well-being and financial health. Homeowners often solicit three bids from three different re-modelers, believing that if they exclude the highest and lowest bids they will have minimized their risks. Price drives the selection. There can be many reasons for a low-ball bid. These might include lesser quality materials, poor craftsmanship, inadequate safety precautions, lack of workers compensation insurance or insufficient licensing. If you don't think that's important wait until one of the employees falls and gets hurt. As the homeowner you could be liable for medical expenses and lost wages.
Beside considering price, it's important the homeowners check references, reputation, insurance and license documentation. It is also crucial that you talk with people who have hired the contractor / re-modeler to do jobs similar to yours.
A beautiful kitchen or bath re-model sheds very little light on the builders ability to put a second story addition on your home. You will want to ask his references if they had any problems with quality, payment schedules, employees or completion time. The most telltale question you could ask is "Would you hire this contractor again?"
Your decision may very well come down to feeling comfortable with the contractor and being able to communicate well. Don't underestimate the importance of your relationship. The re-modeler will likely be spending many hours in your home, so it really is important that you feel comfortable with him from the start. You should be able to work together combining your ideas and his expertise to turn the vision into a final product.
Quality is never cheap and good research may seem like a headache. But you will know what an expensive headache is when you give the low-ball bidder a large deposit check to start the job, he takes the roof off your house, disconnects your plumbing and then leaves town with no forwarding address.