Okay to Negotiate with Contractor?

ourhappyhomeMarch 26, 2007

This is my first experience working with a contractor. I'm having a new deck built, some cement work and and some minor electrical work. The estimate I received is about $600 more than I'd like to pay. I've received three other estimates, but this is the guy I'd really like to use. His price is comparable to the others, a little higer in some areas, but not by much. Here's my question: Do folks usually negotiate the price of work or do you simply pay what is being asked by the contractor? I negotiate everything else (cars, homes, jewelry) just not sure of the proper protocol here. What should I do? Will they likely be upset by my request or shortcut me in other areas? Your opinion from past experience would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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I'd probably be less likely to haggle if the bid is in the ball park of others. Be sure you're comparing apples to apples though. My final selection wasn't the lowest bidder, but the best value IMO.
I only had one contractor to come back offering $1000 less (at the end of the deck season). His orig price was much higher than all the rest though.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 4:52PM
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On the final pass I give the Wallet one,done deal price. I dont haggle,I dont come down, I dont give a discount for Cash, and I dont deal with people who ask me to.

This is a Construction Project, A Legal Contract between two People, there are no haggleing things going on with me or the Wallet after that Contract is signed. John

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 7:11PM
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Good advice Jasper.

I didn't mean to imply that I wanted to haggle. I just received the estimate yesterday and before I respond to the contractor, I'd like to know if its "unprofessional" to ask for a reduction in price. From what I'm able to determine, contractors often build in a bit of "fluff" in their estimates. It just happens that I can't afford the "fluff". Ofcourse I could just find another contractor, but I'd like to work with this group and I'd like to give them my business. I'm spending quite a bit of money on the project. They're a small company and I think they could use the business. But, like John, maybe they'd rather I just too my business elsewhere. Hmmm. Will have to give this some more thought.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 8:14PM
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If I am dealing with folks whose culture it is to negotiate over everything they buy then I will bump my first bid to allow for room to go down to the point I would bid it anyway then stick w/that price. Little old ladies living on fixed incomes get a better price than some fat cat in a high dollar neighborhood too. People that I sense could be problematic get
the price bump. People that are jerks get a price so high I doubt I'll ever here from them again, if I get the job then at
least I'm getting paid to put up with them, ha.

IMO, no harm in asking, all they can say is no.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 8:30PM
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Just be honest and say to them "I got another estimate that was $600 less than yours but I would rather give my business to you. Can you match their price?"

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 12:30PM
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Quality doesn't cost...it pays.
When I give a price, it isn't written in stone. If a client tries to "negotiate" me down, I'll just subtract a feature...maybe I won't plug the screw holes, or seal the deck. I spend time on my estimates, and at that point, I'm not giving the same package for less $ (unless they pay cash ;-)


    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 4:35PM
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What I wonder as a consumer is how to tell the difference between someone like brooklyndecks and someone like deckman 22 who may see me as a "fat cat". Anyway, thanks loads for the input. If you like, I will let you know the outcome in a future post. I expect to hear back by tomorrow.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 5:17PM
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I can't speak for the Deckman, but my client base has deep pockets, so I don't usually have to negotiate.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 6:26PM
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This is intersting, really its the first post on this kinda thing...Hmmmmm lets see, ol happy is usta geting/asking for a little movement in the price of cars,homes and Jewerly,,,,,
Cars>> total outlaw its a slug feast get in there and be burtal get on line belive half of what you see do the knee sweep until your half crazy and leave thinking you still left money on the table,OR do what I do find the ride you want if the money is right buy the thing,everyone has to make a few bucks.

Homes>>>about the same thing but a little more class,three people involved, market in the area,upgrades,plumbing,ell, schools,ghessss like a lot of things but for the most part after the deal is done everybody got what they thought they wanted.
Jewerly>>> now that is a whole nuther smoke,,,the price of the ring has nothing to do with the metal/stones in it. The little girl with the low neck outfit that keeps bending over the glass display is going to make all the$ she can. Depending on how much $ on a sliding graft sometimes the price can be hacked down.

OutDoor Projects>>like decks. With the given..Al,Steve and I info and the Happy not wanting to pay**** Fluff**** now that is really intersting. Fluff,,,so being kind here I am thinking this means Profit??? the Happy is wanting to pay only $ by the hour with no mark up on mateial or pay for a Trademan with a lot of Trade knoweldge, or pay for Workers Comp and Libality. The Happy wants to get the best for the least, and he has a young Co that he wants to use if only he can beat them down and not pay for any Fluff/profit.

Intersting,,,,Happy my Man / Consumer I got this for Ya>>>>>Always ask for.... Workers Comp and Libality, website go see/call some Wallets he has done work for,give the man a clear plan as to what you want, get a price for it in writing and see that as a done deal.The way I do Business there is no fat cat or needy person or rich areas I over price everyone.I know what Im doing. I can put in a 12x12' mobile home deck for around $50 more than the next guy get it done in one day,most of the time if its around $30,000 I am $2000 higher. The Last thing a Young Co wants to do is run the thing thru for drill,sure way to completly be missing their A**s come time to buy a new table sawBut I run into Folks like you every now and then happy person,sometimes it works,sometimes it dont. If the Man comes down in the price already given it wasent an Honest bid in the first place. J

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 7:04PM
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Steve @ Brooklyn Decks & I do deal with a different type of person. He deals with folks in New York where I deal with folks in Austin & the surrounding area. Some folks are very sofisticated here & some are just plain 'ol country folks who simply want a treated pine deck on their mobile home at the cheapest price. If I want that job I have to bid accordingly. I can not deal with them the same as some high tech exec. was my point.

The nice thing about working for yourself as a deckbuilder is you can do things your way. John has his way, Steve his & I have mine, if someone doesn't like our way of doing business fine someone else will.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 6:14PM
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I know this is an old post but I am wondering if ourhappyhome ended up negotiating the price and who he ended up using. I am in somewhat of the same boat except I am getting hardscape and landscape work done. I have only gotten one quote because i have used the guy before and liked him, his crew and his work but since I am spending an insane amount of money I am wondering if he has left any room to negotiate and if it is appropriate. I always figured if a contractor comes down on price they do something shady like brooklyndecks does...just not do something they should and make back the money they took off when negotiating.
I also don't want to be overcharged because it appears I can "afford" it.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 3:50PM
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I too would love to know the outcome of this post, or to get more feedback. We're going to have some drainage and regrading work done (which also involves a lot of concrete removal and then putting back in of a driveway). We've gotten 2 quotes so far (one 3x higher than the other), and are awaiting quotes from others. But knowing if it's possible to get a reduction in price from the estimate without mortally offending them or getting a lackluster job would be very much appreciated.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 6:33PM
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It's a crowded marketplace out there and we all know it. The price I present is my best price to complete your project. Can I go lower? Sure, if you want to reduce the scope of work.

I sell based on the quality of what I do, not price. If you're going to haggle over the price when a) I've presented you with a fair price and b) I know you know it's a fair price because you've gotten other prices and I'm in the ballpark, well... find someone else.

Fact: most contractors are not trained salespeople. They're not interested in playing the car sales games where they have their bottom line number to which they add a figure based on how dumb they think you are, then work backwards with you. Instead they're treating you with respect. It'd be nice if you showed them some in return.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 5:04PM
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Asking about money does not equate with a lack of respect. Lowballing is disrespectful in my opinion.
Always get several bids to get a sense of the general price for a project. If a really good guy bids higher, just ask, it may be he is doing more, or has more skills and experience
I would feel totally OK with asking why a bid is higher than another. If someone can't give a courteous reply, who needs them? Communication is important, and money is not taboo.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 10:46PM
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