Need help with bid.

goodbyekittyOctober 22, 2013

This is actually the first time I've sought out a bid other than for insulation, gutters, and a heat pump. I hope you don't mind that I'm posting here because it's mainly about floors with a hutch thrown in. But it seems there is more activity here in looking at bids than on the flooring forum.

I'm in the Pacific NW, I am replacing 1000 sq.ft of flooring with engineered hardwood. The hardwood is $4.65 per sq. and the install looks like it's $3.25 per sq. Including a 2 steps down into a sunken living room (2 openings to LR, one step down each), 8 vents. Total cost $9,614

Question: I'm thinking $3.25 per sq. is about right, but can I ask the contractor to drop off the materials for us to install? I think I can find someone to install including the steps at a lower price, but wonder if the contractor will charge more elsewhere.

We are also having a built in installed in a 4'3" alcove in the dining room. This house was built in 1973, I'm surprised no one has done it before! It is going to be a buffet with a wine cooler. I think I'm ok with the cabinet (Dynasty Omega), but I was quoted $1,129 for Absolute Black honed 3cm granite and Portofino Coast tiles for a backsplash. The cabinet itself is $2,166. Does this sound right?

Question: Is this a bit much for only 4 feet of counter space? In the first place, I asked about pewter and I noticed he immediately suggested granite. When the bid came in I asked again if he can do a pewter counter top for this bar/buffet area, or if it was just too expensive. But in his email to me he said that he suggested absolute black because of it's pewter color. I don't think this granite looks like pewter at all.

2nd Question: Can I ask him to just do the cabinet and look elsewhere for my pewter countertop and maybe backsplash too? It's such a small area, maybe he's not familiar with metal countertops? Are metal countertops more expensive than granite? Ok, that was more than just one question...

Everything in total with the flooring, new pebble tile in front of sliding glass door (4'X2'), on the fireplace hearth (1 1/2' X 6'), half walls installed (I want to add columns, not in the bid), cabinet with granite and backsplash, and base boards dropped off is a total of $15,000. Wow, and next is the kitchen! I'm having sticker shock!

This is the higher end of my budget. He didn't even ask; How did he know I had $15,000 in my pocket? LOL!! I guess this isn't too bad, but I am going to ask for a couple more bids. But I especially want my pewter counter top unless it's completely out of my budget. Sorry this was so long, I hope you made it this far.

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If your contractor can't convince you he's a value at the prices he charges, he doesn't deserve your business.

None of my customers go with low bidder. Ever.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 1:14AM
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"If your contractor can't convince you he's a value at the prices he charges, he doesn't deserve your business."

What exactly does this mean???

Goodbyekitty, have you gotten any other bids to see how they compare? Your contractor has likely given you a price based on a "package" of the work you submitted for. If you ask him to cut out some of the work, his price may adjust upwards.

This post was edited by jellytoast on Wed, Oct 23, 13 at 12:12

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Make sure you are getting at least 3 estimates and comparing apples to apples. Have the bids broken down so you can see exactly what you are paying for.

You asked if you could ask him.... You can ask anything you want! You can get whatever you want. Remember you are in control of this. If you want pewter then get someone who can give you pewter.

You can ask for materials only from the contracter but first get estimates on the install only. You may be able to purchase the flooring on your own. Don't assume or guess anything. Ask lots of questions and get answers.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 12:55PM
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""If your contractor can't convince you he's a value at the prices he charges, he doesn't deserve your business."
What exactly does this mean???"


I have to answer your question without advertising which is tricky. It is factual to say that I have a 4.69 customer satisfaction rating (out of a possible 5) with a major internet service. You don't earn this level of customer satisfaction by doing crappy work or charging customers too much.

I cannot offer my level of service at the rates my "competitors" charge. They are going broke and don't know it; I've been doing this for thirty years.

If price were the only consideration, low bidder would have all the work. He doesn't. I have an obligation to my potential customers to see if they want value over low price. If they do, we can work together; if not, I have nothing for them.

I hope that answers your question.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 2:45PM
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Sophie Wheeler

There's no way a contractor will sell you the product and not the service that goes with it. You might as well go buy the crap from Home Cheapo and take 8 months to DIY it as even suggest that. Presumably though, you want a good product installed well, so that you don't have issues to post on here about and can hold your head up and not have to answer the question, "What's with those floors?"

As far as the cabinets, that's a more than fair price, as is the counter. Pewter would be more than double that price. It's one of the most expensive counter surfaces available at 2x to 4x the cost of granite.

There's one way to get your project to be a lower cost, and that's to lower the quality of the materials in the project. Go with a lower cost wood (and still pay that much to install it.) and a lower cost cabinet (and still pay that much to install it) and a laminate countertop (and still be at least half of what your granite quote might be for a custom top.)

If you find yourself unable to afford the quality of materials and craftsmanship that you desire, reduce your desire. Or increase your budget. It's always cheaper to find a hack to do the job in the short term than the value in a higher priced work for the long term. In the long term, it is SO much more expensive to learn that lesson well.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 3:04PM
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Thank you for the clarification, Trebruchet! It is just that there are more than a few contractors out there who manage to convince people that they are a value at the prices they charge, but that doesn't mean that they actually ARE, or that they are deserving of the business. It just means that they are good at talking and selling.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 4:31PM
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You probably won't get the contractor to drop off the flooring for you to do it yourself - but you can certainly buy flooring from a reputable source and diy - providing you have the skills and toos for doing the job.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 4:34PM
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Hollysprings, I take offense at your remark "You might as well go buy the crap from Home Cheapo...."

I have hardwood floors from Lowes and did DIY them. The floors are excellent quality and challenge anyone to find a flaw in the install. There is bad quality flooring on the market and but you can buy it anywhere, not just home improvement stores. One of the reasons my husband DIYs just about everything is that he finds even some pros work is not up to his standards.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 4:37PM
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Jellytoast and Debra- Yes, I am trying to find a 2nd and 3rd bid, but now after reading these posts I'm thinking this is a very fair bid. But I know, I should at least get another bid.

Holly & weisman-My husband and I are the worst DIY'ers, I mean I don't even trust us to paint! I found paint drip marks in our bathroom and after that I decided I'm leaving this to professionals. I'm glad to know that the cabs and the granite are a fair price! After I started looking at this and all the work it involves, it seems very fine indeed. To make everything look nice I think professional installation should look like the work of a surgeon.

But the one thing I am going to ask the contractor is to leave the backsplash out of the equation. If a pewter countertop is out of my budget =( then I want the backsplash to be either hammered copper or some kind of metal tile. Which for a bar area I think would look good with black honed granite. Or! tell him not to put the countertop on until I have the budget for a pewter countertop. At this point, I don't care. I want pewter!!

Thanks for the info everyone, I am so excited to finally be getting this done.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 9:53PM
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You can have him make a plywood counter top and use that until you can afford what you want for the counter top and backsplash. Just paint the backsplash for now.

People do it all the time. Most stain and seal it themselves but if you are truly DIY-phobic you can get him to do that.

Just keep in mind the cautions in your other thread about getting a fabricator to do a job that small when you are ready. Your cost could increase, or you might even have trouble finding someone. We used a very reputable fabricator in the Dallas area and they have a minimum size, 30 sq ft I think but I don't remember for sure.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 8:57AM
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