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Home Renovation Cost: Get Estimated Bids From Contractors

Almost any contractor is willing to come out, take a look at the job, and offer you an offer. The only question is: How accurate will that offer be?

Early in the game, the contractor is likely to bid high, thinking you don’t really know what you want and will change your requirements over time. The contractor has to build in protection in case he ends up wanting something substantially different than what he’s asking for now. Often a contractor’s offer will include a variety of options. This is a typical approximate bid for an upgraded kitchen:

Complete kitchen cabinets installed

All new cabinets, stained wood $11,400

All new white plastic cabinets $7,300

All new cabinets with glass doors $12,200

Existing cabinets with new doors and trim $6,100

Existing cabinets sanded and retained $4,200

Since you don’t know what you want, the contractor gives you a variety of options to choose from. Of course, each option is still an estimate, probably a high estimate, of what it will actually cost. He has to sit down and choose the specific cabinets, the stain he wants, the configuration, whether he wants to buy a new one or restore an old one, etc. Obviously, the choices he makes will dramatically influence the cost. However, starting contractor bids here can help you see relative costs and what it will take to get the job done with different types of materials.

How do you find contractors to give you estimates? Ask friends who are satisfied with the work they have done. Ask real estate agents. Look for cabinetmakers, tilers, kitchen specialists, etc. in the phone book.

Call several. Ask them to come in for an evaluation. Most contractors will do this for free. Usually they will stop and spend about an hour with you. They will give you options, possibly with a quick sketch of what they plan to do, and give you a rough estimate of costs.

Also check out contractors who specialize in remodeling jobs. They will go out and look at your overall work, suggest options, maybe come up with a brief plan, and give you a range of costs depending on the options you choose.


To get an accurate bid from a contractor, you need to have a set of plans, a spec list (an indication of the materials you want), and a completion schedule. If he doesn’t have all of that, he’s just getting a ballpark figure.


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