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Honest Home Improvement Estimates

Jan 25, 2008
Let's face it: when it comes to home improvements, some of us are all thumbs. Despite our best intentions or most valiant efforts, it can take a professional to get the job done right. If you're one of these people, you need to protect yourself by gaining a good understanding of home improvement estimates.

The most important thing to remember about a home improvement estimate is that it is an "estimate". It's a price given to you that may vary one way or the other. It's not set in stone. That being said, a home improvement estimate is what you'll seek when you're just not sure how much it will cost for a home repair or renovation job.

Experienced contractors will give you "ballpark figures" to estimate the total cost of your project. This home improvement estimate is the best way to figure out how much money you'll need in your budget, before you get to work.

Careful Calculations

A home improvement estimate is the total cost of the project, based on the exact dimensions of your home. You will not find a reputable contractor who will give you an estimate without first visiting the property, inspecting the area and taking dimensions.

Once this information has been gathered, you'll work with the contractor to determine the materials required to complete the job. The contractor will explain his or her markup system, and compare the job to regional pricing. All of these steps will contribute to the final calculation, your home improvement estimate.

Pricing Your Materials

An honest contractor will base his or her material costs on research information. This data can be calculated using the material prices gathered from hundreds of different lumberyards throughout the United States. Labor fees can be compiled in the same manner, with researchers tracking labor trends and collecting data from professional remodeling contractors. Your contractor should have access to this information and use it in his or her estimate calculations.

Costs, fees and prices are gathered from different sources and areas, and used to determine your home improvement estimate. Each job is unique, so these costs should reflect the price of your specific project. Your contractor will take other factors into account, such as your residential area, to calculate a truer estimate. Be as helpful as possible. The closer the estimate is to actual costs, the easier it will be to get the job done.

The information that you share with your contractor will be used to determine your home improvement estimate. This can be a good indication of what the project will cost but, remember, the actual price may vary just a little bit.

As the work progresses, your contractor will be able to make more accurate measurements and provide additional details. The actual price that you pay upon completion may be more or less, depending on these additional factors. There are also unforeseen elements, such as scheduling conflicts, poor weather and uneven terrain that can also affect the final price.

When calculating your home improvement estimate use the current retail price for materials. These are the prices you'd pay if you purchased the materials at a store. Then, if your contractor offers you materials at a discounted rate, it will be like getting a little bonus when the job is complete.

If you insist on certain products for their quality and style, however, you'll know exactly what you're getting. Those materials purchased at a reduced contractor's rate may not offer the same guarantee. The extra money is often worth added satisfaction and peace of mind.

Do not agree to hire a contractor until you've received a written home improvement estimate. If the price is higher than you can pay, go ahead and haggle until you've agreed on a price that makes you both happy.
About the Author
Writer Dionne Voughar writes for a variety of popular Internet magazines, on home improvements and home repair issues.
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