Free is just one of those words that gets thrown around a lot these days. You see it on virtually everything, and for good reason. It grabs your attention.
But I suspect you know deep down inside there’s almost always a catch. Nothing exemplifies this more than the free estimate.
You’d be hard-pressed to find any remodeler who can come up with a number for the exact cost for a remodeling project after spending just one to two hours in your house. What you’re actually left with is more of wild guesstimate than a solid estimate based on hard facts and figures.
It takes time and planning to understand the feasibility and develop the design of any remodeling project — big or small.
If not enough time is taken, you may get a free estimate, but one filled with its own fair share of “catches,” including:
- Limited options, many of which aren’t necessarily the best for you or your home.
- Budget escalations to cover the costs of unforeseen problems and ill-conceived design plans.
- Inflated costs and markups to absorb the price of designs and redesigns during the actual project.
- Expanding construction schedules to accommodate for the time needed to figure things out as they go.
- Uncertainties of the selection and quality of materials to be used for your remodeling project.
Unfortunately, a free estimate isn’t actually free, as it could cost you more in the long run.
In my experience, a better approach for estimating a remodeling project is for a remodeler to come out to look at your space and discuss options and ballpark costs based on industry standards and previous projects. Then, spend some time doing basic design layouts to find options that are right for you and your home.
After completing these two steps, the remodeler can develop a more accurate ballpark estimate. If the project still makes sense at that point and works with your budget, you could finish the design and get detailed line item pricing to truly know how much the project will cost.