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Subject:  Low-ball estimate? Date:  10/7/2003  3:33 PM
Author:  dsemmler Number:  41690 of 140323

My DW and I recently purchased a new front entrance door that includes the door and two sidelites. We are now in the process of getting estimates for installation of the entrance door with sidelites and a storm door, as this is not something I would feel comfortable attempting on my own.

In total, we have received four estimates. The first estimate was for $600, the second estimate was for $700 and the third estimate was for $650. So far, everything seems about right as they are all in the same ballpark. Well, the last guy that came to the house for an estimate came out and measured everything and looked it over.

He said that since he would have to calculate in the cost of trim based on his measurements, he would call us the next day with an estimate. Well, he called and gave my DW an estimate of $150! She asked if that was for both doors, thinking maybe that was just the storm door. He said, "Oh yeah, I forgot about the storm door. Add another $25." So his total estimate is for $175.

My first reaction was amazement at that price. Then I started wondering what was wrong that his rates were so low. Is his work bad? Is he inexperienced? He said he was insured and bonded, although we have not seen any proof of that. Is it common practice to ask for proof or is there somewhere we can check?

He said his schedule was pretty busy right now as he is doing a few decks for people. He said he would come in the late afternoon to do our job. Then I started worrying what happens if he cannot finish the job before the end of the night?

My fellow Fools, should my red flags be waving with this last contractor? Is there more information we should ask for? We are calling him today to ask for references and my DW forgot to ask how long he has been doing this and how many doors he has installed in the past. Anything else? Is his rate too good to be true?

Thanks in advance!

dt
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