Home Renovation Quotes Comparing Apples to Apples: A Case Study

Why renovation quotes for the same project are not all the same price.

Most homeowners looking to complete a home renovation will ask for a quote from a few contractors before deciding on which one to go with. You may find that some quotes are expensive, some are more reasonable, and some are very affordable. These ranges can leave you wondering if you are even comparing the same thing!

As a home renovator with more than 20 years of experience, I’ve heard a fair share of quoting stories! In today’s blog, I wanted to share with you a recent quoting opportunity of mine that highlights this issue and need for more homeowners to ask the right questions to ensure you are comparing apples to apples on your next renovation project.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to quote a basement-finishing project. After gathering various costs from the sub trades I planned to work with, it appeared that the cost was going to be above the homeowner’s budget. I was aware that this potential client as many others, was also gathering additional quotes from other contractors. It turned out that the other quotes the client had received were also much higher than their budget but nowhere near the cost of mine. As with every client, I took the time to go through the breakdown of the costs with this client to ensure he understood what exactly he was being quoted on.

So what was the difference in our quotes?

As always, the difference was in the details. Firstly, the client wanted a floating subfloor. With 2 different ways to build a subfloor, my competitor quoted the homeowner on the less expensive option, which limited the client on the choice of the finishing of the floor. This meant that the client would be limited in the opportunity to choose hardwood or tiles as an option- this detail was the first major price difference in our quotes.

The second key area of difference was how we approached the planning for the existing frame of the basement. With this being an older home, I was aware that the existing frame was dried out and warped, and would not meet the Ontario Building Code requirements for insulation values.Therefore, my quote included the removal and replacement of the existing framing. However, the competing contractor planned on leaving the existing frame- a less expensive option that would cause a defect in the appearance of the drywall. As a result, the client could have to pay an extra charge to fix this problem.

As you can see, quotes from different contractors vary greatly, so what can you do as a homeowner? I highly recommend that once you’re happy with the number of quotes you’ve gathered, decide on your best two and ask for both of these contractors to walk you through all of the details. This will make it easier to compare and really understand exactly what you are getting. Working with a contractor is all about trust, and an honest contractor will be more than willing to take the time to discuss your quote. It is important to know what you are getting in order to ensure that things are being done the right way the first time.

How many quotes do you usually get for your home improvement projects? How do you decide on which one to choose?