By: mica On: December 01, 2016 In: News Comments: 0

I wanted to share a story with you about hiring contractors. If you’ve ever had any type of home repair, remodeling, or had a home built, you’ve probably hired a contractor. Hiring the right contractor for the job is essential, and it can mean the difference between a great finished product or a hole in your wallet. If you’re like my friend, who we’ll call Sally, you may be all too aware of the differences in contractors out there.


Small Job, Small Disaster

Sally, from Dover NH, wanted new crown molding installed in a large room in her home. The project was a standard finish carpentry project–a chance for a quality contractor to shine. It involved removal of the old molding, buying and installing new materials, a little sheetrock work, and painting.

The contractor Sally hired threw things together and finished only half the project before being fired. After he had cleared out, it was soon obvious that the molding was done wrong. Not only did he do a shoddy installation job, but he ended up ruining the new materials she had paid for in the process. By the time she hired a new contractor to redo the project, she only had half the original materials remaining. Long story short, she spent a whole lot more in the long run.


Half a House in Nottingham

George lives and works in another country, and is planning on moving back to the states. He choose to have a home built for him in New Hampshire. So, George interviewed contractors and found one that offered him a price he couldn’t refuse. Based on the numbers he was given, George took out a bank loan and the contractor got to work.

The contractor George hired had poured the foundation and built the frame, but then realized he significantly underbid the project. The job was going to cost much more than he had quoted, and he couldn’t finish. George was left in a colossal hole, with no equity to even pay back his loan. He didn’t even have a house he could sell. George’s case is an extreme example, but it goes to show that this can and does happen.

Hiring the Right Contractor


There’s a moral to this story, and it has to do with scope development. Scope development, in a nutshell, is figuring out exactly what your project is going to look like when it’s completed. This happens after design, and includes things like:

  • What kind of tile or flooring?
  • What type of plumbing/electrical fixtures, and how many?
  • What countertop material? And so on.

There are countless decisions to be made, and they will greatly affect the cost of any project.

More often than not, projects get designed only to discover that the cost to build is more than the client thought it would be. Or even worse, more than they can afford. If the contractor you are working with isn’t fully developing the scope of a project, then the cost could skyrocket or the project may not be able to be finished.

Here is an example of how scope development can drive the cost of a project:

Let’s use the replacement of a 32 “x 60” fiberglass tub/shower combo as an example. Assume this tub replacement is part one part of a larger bath remodel. We could tear out that shower and replace it with a new 3-piece fiberglass tub/shower combo for around $3,500. The end result would be a brand new tub with new fixtures.

Now let’s change that to a tub with a tile surround. Now that $3,500 shower becomes a $6,500 – $8,000 tub/shower because we have now have added labor and materials for tile prep. We have added tile and labor costs for the tile surround, and the cost of tile can vary wildly depending on the materials, size and design.

Now let’s knock it out of the park and turn our fiberglass tub/shower into the spa-like experience you’ve desired for so long. Out comes the old tub, and in goes a shower pan and full waterproof tile backer kit. Instead of a single mixing valve and shower head, you decide you want to also add a handheld shower, and a rain shower head. You also want the option to control each of those independently. You have selected a nice stone tile for the floor and walls as well as a 6” mosaic band running horizontally on the walls. Throw in a niche or two and a 3/8” glass shower door, and the $3500 fiberglass tub/shower has become a $12,000 – $14,000 walk-in shower. Get the picture?

In our next blog, we’ll talk about contractor reputations and specific ways you can ensure you’re getting a quality contractor, but today we want to hammer home the concept of cost.

Here’s a pro tip: Decide what type of construction experience you want to have, and hire a contractor along those lines. Are you looking for cheap? Fast? Well Managed? Quality? It’s up to you.

An experienced contractor will help you develop your project based on your budget, know what the job costs will be and what to factor in. Tune in next time for more tips on choosing a contractor, and don’t forget, the team at Oxland Builders is here for you. Get in touch with us today!

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