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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Walsh

Getting an Accurate Estimate for Your Remodel Project: A Step-By-Step Guide

When planning to remodel your home, getting an accurate estimate is essential. The cost of any remodel can vary greatly depending on the materials, involved labor, and other factors. An accurate estimate of the total cost of the project will help you plan for the financial resources needed and make sure that the project stays on track and within your budget. This step-by-step guide will help you get the most accurate estimate for your remodel project.

Introduction - Why You Need an Accurate Estimate for Your Remodel Project

Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen, bathroom, outdoor space, or even adding an addition; getting an accurate estimate of the total cost of the project is imperative. Not only will this help you plan for the financial resources needed, but it will also help you avoid any possible costly surprises during the remodel.

Having an accurate estimate of the cost of the project will especially help you stay on track, maintain your budget, as well accurately compare the quotes you receive from contractors.

Step 1: Have Your Ideas Ready

Before you contact any contractor to get an estimate, you should have a clear idea of what you want in your project. This will help the contractor accurately estimate the cost of the project.

You should also have an idea of the materials you want to use and the style you prefer, especially when it comes to interior material selections. For example, if you want to install new cabinets, you should decide which type of cabinets you want and the finish you prefer. This will help your contractor not only determine the cost of the materials needed for the project, but the correct product to maintain your budget with accuracy.

Step 2: Know What You Want

You should have a clear idea of all the features you want in your project. This includes things like the possible layout, material styles and finishes, appliances (if you are asking your contractor to supply), type of lighting, fixtures, and even possible paint colors.

Let's refer back to the accuracy aspect of the quote you are looking to receive; knowing what you want will allow the contractor to discuss with you whether your goals are within the parameters of your anticipated budget.

You should start by creating a list of your desired features and share it with your contractor. I personally love when our perspective clients have a written list of the features (flooring finish & style, cabinet colors, door and/or window styles, etc.)

Step 3: Establish Your Budget

Decide the value of your remodel project (aka what you want to spend) before calling your contractor for a quote. This will help you determine what features you can include in your project and help your contractor accurately estimate the cost of the project with allowable products.

It's important to consider any additional costs for yourself and/or your family during the remodel period like eating out/ordering take-out, purchase of disposable eatery, or even if you are planning on staying elsewhere during your remodel project. Additionally, you will want to factor in the possibility of costs for special circumstances (i.e. water damage caused by flooding, termite damage to wood-framed homes, leaking windows, etc.); if these are possibilities within your home. Contractors will typically refer to these costs as 'unforeseen' due to the fact that the surface may look great, but underneath you may be surprised by what is uncovered.

Step 4: Share Your Budget and Expectations With Your Contractor (Most Important)

You should discuss your budget and any expectations you have for the project before and again during your estimate. A note to the wise, we always hear 'I'd be shooting myself in the foot if I tell you my budget' or 'I just don't know what anything cost'; although, establishing your budget prior to your estimate appointment or even during your estimate appointment saves a lot of grief for yourself and the contractor. There is still an idea that sharing your budget will cause your contractor to drive up prices in effort to exhaust your budget; however, the reality is that sharing your budget allows your contractor to suggest realistic capabilities and suggestions for your remodel project.

Let's touch on expectations... if you want the project to be completed within a certain timeframe or if you have any special requests, you should make sure to discuss these with your contractor at the time of your estimate. This will help us create that accurate estimate with an authentic timeline.

We do get many requests for clients to complete portions on their own, such as demo or painting, which may pause the schedule of your contractor in effort to allow completion time for the homeowner. These are extremely important factors for all parties to amicably maintain a prosperous completion schedule.

Step 5: Getting your Estimate From Your Contractor

Once you have shared your budget and expectations with your contractor, they would provide you with an estimate with the total cost of the project and material allowances. On your estimate, you should see an itemized or detailed list of everything that has to be completed labor wise, and then you should have an outlined material allowance section. The material allowances are either product specific (Diamond Cabinetry in Rustic White per specs, Thermatru RH outswing fiberglass 6-panel door...) listed without a specified price or a basic listing (i.e. White vinyl windows, Wall tile, (Qty 3) interior doors, LVP Flooring, and so on) with a specified price, which includes tax and delivery, for the maximum amount that you can spend on each product area. This works in your favor because if you over-spend on the material you will know immediately that you will have to pay additional or if you under-spent that you should be receiving a credit for the difference in your product(s) purchased by your contractor.

Make sure to read through your estimate carefully either on your own or with your contractor, this is based on your preference. Never be afraid to ask your contractor questions or to go over any portion of your estimate with you. If there is anything that you want to change, remove, or revise then this is the time to make that happen. All questions are good questions: lead time for materials, possible start time, length of completion, warranty services and how they are requested if they are needed, payment requirements, even ask for their actual license and insurance information.

Step 6: Compare Estimates From Other Contractors

Once you have received your estimate from your contractor, you should compare it to estimates from other contractors. This will help you determine if you are getting the fair pricing you requested while comparing the so-called apples-to-apples after being up-front with all our contractors who you asked to bid your project.

You should also compare the estimates to ensure that the contractors are offering similar services and materials for the comparative price. For example, some contractors may offer a lower price but use lower quality materials or offer fewer services. Comparing estimates from a few reputable contractors will help you get the best value for your dollar.

Note, when looking for an addition, this comparison is most accurate after you have your stamped plans. It is often best to obtain those plans prior to requesting bids from any contractors.

Step 7: Negotiate Your Terms

After comparing estimates from a few reputable contractors, you always have the opportunity to negotiate with the contractors. This will help you get the best value for your dollar and ensure that your project stays within budget.

When negotiating, you should also make sure that you are getting the services and materials you want within your allowable budget. For example, if you want to install high-end appliances, you should make sure that the contractor is including these in the estimate and allowances.

Many contractors offer price matching, yet they will want to know all the ins-and outs of the comparative contractor (whether they are accurately licensed and insured) as well as compare the products and services to price match. We have been asked so many times to price match with a quote that a client received via text message while we sent a completely detailed estimate with license information - that for sure is not equivalent with apples-to-apples. The choice is yours, and remember contractors are not bidding your job for fun, they legitimately want to work with you toward a sold project.

Step 8: Finalize the Estimate

Once you have negotiated your materials, services, timeline, and price with your contractor, you should finalize the estimate. This will ensure that both you and your contractor are in agreement regarding the cost of the project.

The finalized estimate should include all the materials, labor, and additional costs associated with the project. It should also include a projected timeline for the project and any special requests you may have. Once the estimate is finalized, again read through everything and ask your contractor any additional questions you may have.

Step 9: Conclusion

This step-by-step guide will help you get the most accurate estimate for your project. From having your ideas ready to comparing estimates from other contractors, following these steps will help you get the best value for your money.

If you’re planning to remodel your kitchen, give the pros at Home Res-Q Remodeling a call for your next estimate. With their expertise and knowledge of the industry, they can help you get the most accurate estimate for your kitchen remodel.

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