Hidden costs and spontaneous up-charges have become commonplace in the remodeling industry. Homeowners all but expect the bad news of “this is going to cost extra”. Worse, many contractors throw out a low estimate knowing once they’ve got the job, they can charge for anything and everything. Sometimes the extra costs are legitimate: dry rot, bad wiring, old plumbing, etc. There are some things any contractor can’t know until the demolition has begun. But on the other hand, some bad-apple contractors will push as far as they can to get the most money out of every job.
So how do you, as a homeowner, protect yourself from over-paying when you decide to remodel your home?
You should start with getting a fixed price from your contractor. This price should be in writing in the service contract you and the contractor sign before starting any work. BEWARE: some contracts will state in the “fine print” that the cost shown is only an estimate and prices may change without notice. If you see this clause, run for the hills. It is almost a certain thing that you’ll pay more than the original estimate.
One of the many benefits of the Design Build Process that we use here at North Light Builders is that you know up-front, before a hammer is ever pulled from a tool belt, what the entire project will cost. Our service contract states that price clearly, with WA state tax broken out so you know what you are paying us and what we are paying the state on your behalf. The price written down on the contract is not our “estimate”