upply shortages and inflation, among other factors, have forced an increase in home renovation prices as of late. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a sharp rise in construction materials prices throughout the pandemic. Prices in August this year are 8.6% higher than in the same month last year, and experts expect the increase to continue.
Finishing a DIY remodeling project under these circumstances is difficult. But if you opt for a contractor, you should pay attention to the project estimate. This document outlines everything homeowners need to know about how much their remodeling endeavor will cost them. Taking heed of every detail in the estimate matters if you want a low budget bathroom renovation.
This post will break down the information in a project estimate, though it varies by contractor. For this, a bathroom remodel will be used as a circumstance, as it’s one of the costliest projects.
The top or side portion of the estimate contains the customer’s name, address, and contact info, all of which are a given. Ensure the details are correct or updated to avoid miscommunication and project delays.
Believe it or not, the most crucial information in this section is the date the contractor provided the estimate. Most construction estimates are only good for 30 days, as the price of materials can change drastically within that timeframe. For instance, between April and May 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a 2.6% increase in prices.
While such a figure may not look much, it can render project estimates more than a month old invalid. If a month has passed since getting the estimate, talk to the contractor and confirm the prices. Sometimes, they’ll stick to the original figures.
Scope of work
Not all bathroom remodeling projects involve a complete overhaul. Some projects only require replacing old fixtures, relocating existing ones, or adding new ones. You’ll see the rundown of the project in the Scope of Work section.
The words that typically go in this section are more than “renovate master bathroom.” It must outline the steps the contractor will take to complete the project. Once you approve the project, the contractor will stick to the Scope of Work; any changes midway will entail additional costs.
The itemized list makes up most of the document, as it gives the rundown on the materials to be used in the project and their costs. Contractors are less likely to produce an estimate on the spot, as it would be too inaccurate. Instead, they return to the office and run the plans on specialized software to get precise estimates.
The estimate may categorize the items for easier reading. Depending on the extent of the project, the categories for a bathroom remodeling estimate include:
Contractors may also factor in unexpected costs or items and procedures added midway because of issues that weren’t discovered in the planning phase. For example, contractors found asbestos flooring while stripping the bathroom bare. They would have to perform the necessary removal steps, which would cost extra.
Sometimes, contractors would calculate labor costs for each item, usually by the hour. The average stands between USD$50 and USD$75 per hour, which can comprise up to 65% of a project’s budget. A few new faucets won’t take too long to install, but an entire bathtub will.
After the total cost of the items, the list will break down other costs like permit fees and sales tax. The final estimate figure should be at the bottom of the list. For added transparency, some contractors include the gross profit.
Terms of payment
Given that the average bathroom remodel can cost four or five figures, you’ll most likely pay for it in staggered phases. The estimate should specify the terms of payment in its own section on the document, specifically how many payments to make and how much for each.
This information is essential for negotiating prices with the contractor. You’d want to keep costs to a minimum but enough for the contractor to purchase the materials to get started. Experts say 30% down payment for a bathroom renovation is the bare minimum.
After paying the down payment, the next payment schedule depends on whether you go via the milestone or completion route. A milestone schedule involves the homeowner paying the contractor over the course of the project, with the final phase being the contractor’s complete pullout from the site. Meanwhile, a completion schedule entails paying based on time spent.
A project estimate is chock full of details and figures, making it easy for the unaware homeowner to get lost. Take note of these essential sections when window shopping for the most cost-effective contractor.