There is a long-standing expectation in this industry that all contractors should give free estimates. As a result, little work actually goes into the initial estimate. Herein lies the problem. Some con-tractors guess an estimate or make a low bid to get their foot in the door. As a result the consumer chooses the low estimate because he or she trusts that the contractor actually put a lot of time and energy into quoting their project.

But is the estimate really free? Seriously, who works for free? I don’t know too many people who are willing to produce quality products for no cost. The fact is people don’t work for free, especially business owners. If they do, they typically aren’t in business for long. Someone will eventually pay for that free estimate in one way or another. Whether it is the one out of ten homeowners that accept an estimate and start a project or the contractor who goes out of business because he didn’t charge for his time. Someone ends up paying for the free cost. In most cases it is built into the selling price of the project.

So “free” for many is paid for by a few. Worst–case, and the most common scenario, is that the price we pay for a “free” estimate is a poorly planned, inaccurately priced, mess of a project which results in disappointment and sometimes the homeowner having to hire a second contractor to correct what should have been done right the first time.

So when examined more closely, collecting the “free” estimate is not the best approach to hiring your contractor.

We feel that most contractors have good hearts and actually care about people and their product. But again, it is very easy to start a remodeling business and there are not many standards set in our industry on how to run a remodeling business. So each contractor does it his or her own way.

We know this from experience. Many skilled craftsmen enjoy working with their hands and get to the point where they decide to start their own practice out of their love for the trade. After ten years their practice has evolved into a business and they fi nd themselves stuck in a business position without business knowledge or experience. As a result, business errors are made, corners are cut, and they have few or no systems and processes. Sadly, there are many home remodeling companies that fit this profile.