What's with contractor pricing?

aimskitchenNovember 6, 2012

We've gotten three quotes for the tear out and install of our kitchen, and they included moving a doorway 6 inches, removing a soffit that supported overhead cabinets that hung between our kitchen and DR, putting in a new gas line for the cooktop (we already have gas in the house for heating), changing electric as needed, installing pendant lights, and painting.

The first quote came in quickly at just under $7,000. This contractor is doing work for the KD's own home right now, and gave us references we will check out. The second two were much higher - one at $16,000 and one over $17,000. All three names were given to us by the KD and he said he thinks they all do good work. We are scratching our heads trying to figure out why one is SO much lower than the others. Should we be concerned about that? On the other hand, why are the other guys charging so much more?

This is a fairly small kitchen, and I'm not sure what is normal for this type of work, but the two higher quotes seem like a lot.

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Hi Aimskitchen,

Please make sure that you're comparing apples to apples. I got three quotes as well. The first quote was $5,000, the second quote was $7,800, and the third quote was $14,000. You'll need to be very specific as to what each contractor has included in each quote. Ask a million questions.

There were things that I didn't consider in my job (doors that needed to be cut because of the tile installation, pipes that needed to be replaced/moved to meet code, etc.) The last contractor had all inclusive pricing while the middle contractor (who I went with) charged me for the unexpected things that came up. My final price was still tremendously lower that what the last contractor was going to charge.

My scope of work was very similar to yours.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 11:58AM
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Sophie Wheeler

All three sound low for the labor you're describing, especially if they are licensed and insured. (Be sure you receive copies of each with the bids, and that they are current.) Not to mention permits and inspections from your local code office that you surely don't want to skip.

"Just" moving a door 6" will require tearing off drywall, supporting the ceiling and upper floor with bracing, redoing the header to current building codes, which may need to be calculated by an engineer, waiting on an inspection from the municipality, and then re-drywalling and painting and installing new trim. In the real world, that's about a quarter of the price of what Lowball Larry is quoting you for the entire job. And all of your other jobs are equally complex and expensive. Cabinet install labor on my jobs usually averages 2-3K on a simple kitchen. If you've got stacked cabinets, stacked molding, and other complex details, then the price goes up.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 3:39PM
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Is one GC getting a licensed plumber and electrician while the cheaper GC is doing all? Bringing in subs costs a lot, but its necessary to have the correct professional for each trade.

Some GC's will run the wires and then a licensed electrician will come for a short time to connect. Other GCs will leave all the electrical to the electrician. There is a price difference.

Your post indicates that scope includes "changing electrical as needed." This is not specific enough. the cheaper GC may only have included minimal electric work.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 6:51PM
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I've noticed if anything in this entire world includes the word "just", it's harder, more expensive, inconvenient, and time consuming than "just". It creates the domino effect with more work that was unexpected, more expensive, inconvenient and time consuming.

That includes kids who are "jus' gunna" do something they know they're not supposed to do or their moms are going to kill them for doing.

This kitchen job is a perfect example. "Just" doesn't mean inexpensive.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 8:07AM
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