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The Hidden Costs of Cheap Estimates

You Get What You Pay For

Recently our Production Manager Travis had a conversation with a commercial client for whom we’ve done thousand of dollars of work. A few months back they had an interior paint job that the higher-ups wanted to put out to bid. Due the budget concerns, their only motivator was price and they chose a contractor who was half the cost of the other bidders. He complained to Travis that this tactic blew up in their faces.

While price should be a consideration when choosing a contractor, you should be wary when the lowest bidder’s estimate is “too good to be true.” When you’re hiring someone, look at the details of the estimate and not just the bottom line. When you’re reading those estimates, do they answer the following questions:

  • Will they adequately prep the surfaces so that the paint will last?
  • How many coats of paint will they be using?
  • What products have they chosen?
  • If you’re not 100% satisfied, do they offer any guarantees or touch-ups?
  • Will they protect or move your furniture or do you assume all the risk of their sloppy paint?

In the case of our commercial friend, the lowest bid meant sloppy paint, lots of over-spray (a mist of paint on neighboring surfaces where it doesn’t belong), and a hasty, slapdash approach. They were stuck with a contractor who cut so many corners that the project looked embarrassing. Like the man who pays for a $3 haircut, our friends have to live with their mistake or pay more money to have a pro fix all the damage.

Suspiciously Low Prices Today = Repainting Tomorrow