Selecting low bid…is it always the best choice?

First and foremost owners should never collect estimates on larger remodeling projects (generally anything over $10K is large) from a contractor without seeking design consultation.  During the design phase pick a remodeler and use them, integrate them into the design, and work with them to build the scope of work.  However, for smaller projects where the scope of work can easily be conveyed during an initial meeting, estimates can be compiled and submitted to the owner for review.

Generally a good rule of thumb is to NOT go with the low bid.  Please note we are considering low bid in this case to be abnormally low.  Use your gut, if it doesn’t feel right it generally isn’t.   Walk away.  Here is why low bids should not be selected; the quality level of the product may not be up to Industry Standard because the appropriate time or materials were not considered at the time of the estimate. This can lead to a project that is halfway completed and a contractor who has skipped town or just went out of business.  Unless you have the time to continue nagging the low bidder on when the project will be completed or you are willing to wait days for a call back, do not select the low bidder.

Let’s not forget we are remodeling and we have existing conditions to work around, low bid may not have considered protecting the valuable existing conditions prior to starting the project and may cause damage to your finishes or structure that out way the cost of the project.  When it comes to warranty work, low bid contractors may not be in business in another year or two.  In this case the burden of the repair cost is on the owner.  There are many more reasons why low bid can be dangerous.  The number 1 reason to stay away from an abnormally low bid is that the low bid contractor may not pay their sub contractors or vendors and could be robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Whether or not you have paid the low bid contractor these expenses associated with your project will land on you.  Generally low bid contractors do not divulge all of the appropriate documentation they should when contracting.