Of all the perplexing issues you might face in life, determining the financial cost of remodeling is probably on the list. It might even be near the top of the list if you are planning to tackle a project in your house this year. The traditional approach of collecting multiple bids is the most common method of so-called price discovery, but it suffers from certain drawbacks.
First, it's difficult to measure the quality of workmanship and the all-important installation without prior experience or having seen examples of prior work from all of the contractors. Comparing commodities such as bathroom vanities or toilets is relatively easy in comparison.
Second, multiple bids can be confusing if not calibrated to exactly the same specs. Was contractor A assuming something in the plans that contractor B never considered? Did you say the word mosaic, and the contractor heard French Provincial? This puts the burden on the homeowner/architect to be extra thorough and precise in the pre-bid scope of work.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, the range of bids can be bewildering. Is the low bid a sucker's bet designed to win the business and mushroom through change orders? Is the most costly proposal coming from a contractor too busy to take the job unless there is a very persuasive reason to do so? Is the middle range reliable, or does it simply appear to be more reasonable because it happened to fall between high and low bids?
These are merely a few of the questions that arise in multiple bid situations, and it's not often easy for homeowners to answer them. In fact, a poll of contractors usually shows that explaining the range of remodeling costs is not always easy for the pros to answer, either. That's where the Remodeling 2016 Cost vs Value Report comes in.
In our experience, it's roughly accurate in estimating the true remodeling costs for a variety of projects. The survey of pros includes detailed bids on hypothetical projects, it controls for regional differences, and it's statistically "reliable enough" for helping homeowners guide their budgets. It distinguishes between midrange and upscale projects: for example, a midrange bathroom remodel in the Chicago area is approximately $22,000, while the upscale version is typically closer to $64,000. An upscale bathroom renovation in your home might cost significantly more or less than $64,000, but it's highly unlikely to land in a ballpark near $22,000.
While it is not the oracle of remodeling costs, we believe it's good enough to supplement the bid process for various types of projects. Complete data from the Remodeling 2016 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com and is published by Hanley Wood Media Inc. (c) 2016. We have no affiliation with the publisher and did not participate in the survey or data collection.