How to Haggle With a Contractor
When it comes to home improvement, haggling on price can be risky. Even if contractors are more willing to lower their prices nowadays, they’re still liable to get angry and cut corners on the job.
So how can you haggle with your contractor and not sacrifice on the quality of the work? Here are a few tips:
1 – Get at least three bids so you know the market price range for the job. Tell each contractor that you’re getting other bids, so he’s motivated to give you a competitive number.
2 – Choose all of your project details – the tiles, fixtures, hardware, everything – before you ask contractors for bids, so they’re pricing the same things rather than guessing at parts of the job. Then ask for itemized bids, compare the costs apples to apples, and respectfully point out discrepancies.
3 – Ask if you can pay the contractor’s subcontractors and suppliers directly. That’s good for him because he won’t have to lay out the money – and for you because he won’t be adding his markup to their fees.
4 – Be flexible about timing. Exterior work is cheaper in the fall; interior renovation and decorating jobs January through March.
5 – Treat your contractor as an ally in your quest to reduce the cost of the job. Ask for his “professional advice” about money-saving changes you might make, such as a slightly different counter top stone or line of cabinets.
Choose the guy who’s best for the job, then talk budget. If you demonstrate your desire to work with him, it shows you understand his value. He’s more likely to lower his price.