Line Item Estimates

Bids…proposals…pricing…whatever you’d like to call them…when you go to the doctor, you get a bottom line price that you’re asked to pay.  When you get your hair cut or done, it is a flat fee. When you buy a car, the base price is a number, but all the extras will be an add-on.   When you buy a house it is the same.   When you go to a restaurant, your bill is brought to you with your subtotal, tax and a total.

Line Item…Why is it then that when you seek out the services from a remodeler that many people always want everything on the proposal broken out by line item?  What difference will it really make if the drywall is $10 a sheet or $50 a sheet?  Let’s discuss some reasons…

Price…First and probably the most obvious…the price isn’t what you expected…meaning it’s way more than you expected.  If that’s the case, tell them that.  Do you truly understand what’s going into your project?  Do you understand all the work that needs to be done?  Or do you just want to know how much profit is going to be made on your project?  If you do, say so.  I guarantee your remodeler would rather you be totally frank with them than you beating around the bush.  However, even if you want to know how much profit he’s making, how is that really your business?  Think about it and go back to the first paragraph…when do you really know what profit anyone makes?

Budget…If you never told your remodeler your budget in the first place and were just “hoping” that it was going to come in around your “magical” number then I guess you can still keep on dreaming about that pie in the sky!  However, if you did share your budget and your remodeler totally missed it, find out why.  If you’re still not comfortable, tell them and go on to someone else.  But tell them, don’t say, “let me think it over” when you have no intention of ever talking to them again.  Guess what’s going to happen?  They’re going to contact you and you’re going to delete their emails or check your caller id before you answer the phone!


Let me think it over…Oh yes!  We’ve all used that one before…but please, do yourself a favor and your remodeler.  If you have no intention of using them, tell them (or anyone for that matter).  If you want them to call you back, set a time and be available for their call and give them your decision.  Don’t skirt their phone calls or emails.  Remember, honesty is the best policy.

Win-Win…This process needs to be a win-win for everyone.  You need to feel comfortable with whom you’re working with and so does your remodeler.  You need to feel that you’re getting a good value in your remodel, if you’re not, then do not do the deal.  Tell your remodeler this and let them know how you want to proceed.  Don’t play games, it’s a waste of your time and theirs.

Profit…Realize that whomever you work with needs to make a profit.  You NEED them to make a profit.  If you feel that the only way you can get a project done is by the “cheapest” way possible, then sub-contract it out yourself or do it yourself, don’t hire a remodeler to do it for you.  In order to stay in business, everyone needs to make a profit.  As I said, you do need them to make a profit because if you have problems, you want them to stand behind what they did for you.  What happens if something goes wrong a week, month or six months after they finish your project?  What if they were so low on price that they just can’t afford to “fix” whatever they did for you?   Or they were so low that they cut corners on your project and you only find this out after they’re done and gone?  Or their pricing has been so low that now they’re out of business and you’re stuck with this huge problem?  Believe me, in the last several years, we’ve seen that.  Only those companies that have consistently charged a profit to sustain their business have stayed in business.  So…you NEED the company that you’re working with to make a profit.

Line Item…So, do you really need it line item?  If you read my previous blog, you know that every remodeler is going to do the project differently, so you’re not going to be able to compare your proposals…what are you really looking for?  Unless you’re in the business, how are you going to attribute a dollar value to what’s in black and white before you?  Bottom line, determine if who you’re working with is giving you a value for the price they’re giving you.  Do you trust them?  BIGGIE here!  Did you get everything you wanted?  Or are you having to cut back on your selections?  Is this an area where you can do something about possibly?  If you really like your remodeler, maybe you just need to save for a little longer until you can afford everything…or instead of that $10 sf tile, you can really live with that $3.50 sf tile…or instead of the seafoam green brushed granite, you can live with the typhoon bordeaux or giallo ornamental polished granite.  Realize that your remodeler, like you and everyone else, has been hit hard by the economy and they have a family, employees and others depending on them and is already operating on a profit margin that has to be competitive in the market place…


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