Two expensive mistakes homeowners make when they take the common advice to "get several estimates before selecting a contractor" is that they should get more than several estimates and the estimates should be from different types of contractors.

When I am asked "So how many quotes should I get?" my response is "as many as you can, 5 is better than 2, 10 is better than 5". Homeowners then grimace and ask "won’t that take a lot of time" and my answer is "yes, it will". So why do I recommend getting as many quotes as possible – is that I see the contractor interviewing process and receiving quotes as one of the best ways for a homeowner to learn about contractors, the building industry and their own preferences.


I have found that each homeowner has a preference of the type of contractor they want to work with. Some homeowners prefer the large remodeling companies, that have sales people, large advertisements in the yellow pages and in the newspaper. Other homeowners like the smaller contractors who have few or no employees, don’t do much if any advertising and meet with a homeowner during the first visit and the last after the job is done.

Which is right for you? You just have to interview several of both types, and the medium sized ones in between to decide your preference. From my experience the quality of the work is not better or worse for a large contractor – that is largely dictated by the individual working on your project, their skill, their interest in doing a good job, and if they have the tools and time to do it right. Likewise the price wont necessarily be more for a large contractor company. The price charged by a large or small contractor depends on a number of factors and only of these is the greater costs for a large contractor to operate their business.


If you found this tip helpful, you might also want to read this:
Read all contracts carefully to identify and eliminate hidden costs
Get a fixed-bid contract