Saturday, October 15, 2011

bid returned - contractor #2

Contractor #2 met with us the very next day which provided a nice contrast. His bid was in a similar format as Contractor #1 except he called out what wasn't included more than Contractor #1. He was friendly and professional. The price made sense (lower than Contractor #1). Contractor #1, later in the week, sent us a detailed spreadsheet with costs broken out. Tile was 20% of the job though; that didn't seem right.  Both contractors provided reference information at these meetings. I was going out of town the week of October 18, so reference checking will wait on me to come back (about a week), and visit live job sites.

Postscript 11/28/2011: Contractor #3 never returned the bid! He followed up several times but then just quietly went away. I wish I had gotten 4 contractors so I would have had 3 bids. In the end, 3 bids would have provided good information as the prices between Contractor #1 and #2 were so similar.

Friday, October 14, 2011

bid returned: contractor #1

The architect and I met with Contractor #1 today. It was a good meeting. He answered all the questions we asked very appropriately, and would be a good fit for this project. Because of KP's poor remodeling experience, I made sure to ask if the contractor would ever request us to pay subs directly (NO-good answer) and how he handles mechanics liens as KP has had two that I know of. It seemed that he was surprised by my interest in mechanic's liens, but said he could make me comfortable. Also, he is very open to the idea of weekly project meetings between us, the architect and the contractor. We really want an open dialogue between all parties on this project so that was important. Frankly, his bid was higher than my high projection. Because there wasn't any type of itemization in his proposal, I couldn't tell what was driving the cost up. Probably our scary, detailed, plans and specifications. We can see after interviews with Contractor #2 (tomorrow) and Contractor #3 (next week hopefully) if this price is basically correct, or if something might be off. I added a surprise question #51, "What do you think about having this project detailed in a blog?" I said that architect and contractor names have been anonymized, but they don't have to be (depending upon their preferences), and I am most certainly not anonymous. The contractor smiled and said, "I think that is a great idea. I have always been meaning to do something like that." I caught the architect a little off guard (just a little). He said he likes the idea but are comments on? Good question! I told them the blog name, and saw that the page views went up this evening (you know, from zero to 15). Revealing the blog so soon was probably a tactical error on my part since we are still in the contractor selection/negotiation process, but this is REMODEL 2.0. Everything out in the open with total transparency.

Monday, October 10, 2011

24 contractor interview questions

I checked with all 3 contractors regarding bid status late last week. Contractor #1 was willing to make an appointment for this Friday to review his bid (exactly one month from meeting the contractors, as projected). #2 and #3 said they would be finished soon, maybe in a week. 

In preparation for bid meetings, I checked some books out from Newport Beach Public Library. Although many of the remodeling books had pretty pictures and nice ideas, I was really looking for specifics about running a project and hiring a contractor. My favorites were Home Remodeling for Dummies (out of print, but you can buy used copies), Remodel This! A Woman's Guide to Planning and Surviving the Madness of a Home Renovation and 50 Plus One Tips When Remodeling Your Home (large print format but I wasn't offended). I also liked this these 50 Contractor Interview Questions online, by Tim Carter. Another great post about selecting a good contractor can be found at