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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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Is his rate too good to be true?

I would certainly ask for and call all of his references. And if you can get 3-4 good references, I'd take a chance. He's less than one third the cost of the next-lowest bid.

It may simply be a case of the others not particularly wanting a small job like that. I've heard stories of contractors getting turned down because their bids were "suspiciously low". Solution: Raise the bid to be "competitive" with everyone else, and magically, they get the jobs. The little voice saying, "too good to be true?" certainly is strong in most of us! :-)

It may also be that he simply is relatively new to the job and is not yet aware of how much money he's leaving on the table with his bids. ;-)

--FY
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I would certainly ask for and call all of his references. And if you can get 3-4 good references, I'd take a chance. He's less than one third the cost of the next-lowest bid.

We are in the process of contacting him for references.

It may simply be a case of the others not particularly wanting a small job like that. I've heard stories of contractors getting turned down because their bids were "suspiciously low". Solution: Raise the bid to be "competitive" with everyone else, and magically, they get the jobs. The little voice saying, "too good to be true?" certainly is strong in most of us! :-)

I had not really thought of that aspect that the others may be over-bidding to make it seem that more expensive must relate to better quality. That is certainly something to consider.

It may also be that he simply is relatively new to the job and is not yet aware of how much money he's leaving on the table with his bids. ;-)

This is along my line of thinking right now. I am wondering if maybe he just has not been doing this long enough to know the "going" rate for this type of job. Personally, I know when I first started my job and was asked to provide time estimates for projects (IT programming) I was usually off by a pretty fair margin.

Hopefully we will get some references from him and be able to learn more about his quality of work. It sure would be nice to save $400-$500 on this job.

Thanks for the feedback.

dt
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A few questions come to mind.

1. Do you live in a newer home or an older home? Sometimes that can
make a difference in the amount of work to switch something like
a door or window.

2. Is you current entry a door with sidelites? If so, it shouldn't
be too much of a job to switch it out.

3. Not mutch to hanging a storm door to a new entry door so the
$25 should be enough.

4. Is this guy a small operator in comparison with the others?
If so, maybe the big guys don't want a small job too badly. Or,
maybe this guy is relativly new and trying to get a start. It
isn't too big a project and a lot of DIY'ers do them.

In any case I would try to get some ref's or at least maybe he could tell you where else he is working and you drive by and at least see what his work looks like.

Dan
...always looking for the low ball estimate...
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DT,

This (the seemingly low bid) may result from the fact that he is actually the one who will do the work. The other contractors you talked to would most likely send one or two other people to do the work and pay them...around $75-$80 apiece, and pocket the remaining $450 for themselves. Ask the low bidder if he is the one who will do the work, and then call the higher bidders and ask them if they will personally be doind the work or sending out "employees".

Tim

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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

I got some work done from a "low-ball" quoter to have the tiles and wall booard replaced and regrouted behind two shower stalls and the tile regrouted on a few others. The quote was for $ 500. I was told to expect to pay up to $1000 to do just one wall board replacement job from a tile guy at Home Depot. The guy who actually did the work didn't speak any english but he sure was a craftsman. It was far better than expected! If the company or person has been around for a while and has some good references it probably is worth a try.
- Frank
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1. Do you live in a newer home or an older home? Sometimes that can
make a difference in the amount of work to switch something like
a door or window.


Our home is approximately 8 years old now.

2. Is you current entry a door with sidelites? If so, it shouldn't
be too much of a job to switch it out.


Yes, our current entry door also has sidelites. Essentially the doors are the same size although I am sure there is a slight variance in the actual measurements. This was not something I really thought of.

3. Not mutch to hanging a storm door to a new entry door so the
$25 should be enough.


Good point. Now that I think of it, one of the other contractors was charging $50 for the storm door and the other two were at $75. So I guess the largest price difference is on the main door.

4. Is this guy a small operator in comparison with the others?
If so, maybe the big guys don't want a small job too badly. Or,
maybe this guy is relativly new and trying to get a start. It
isn't too big a project and a lot of DIY'ers do them.


They are all relatively small operators. We don't live in a huge town and he actually is from an even smaller town just a little west of us. If I remember correctly, he said he had not done any work out in our area as he had mostly been in his town. The others were local to our area and one was from the much bigger suburb to the east of us.

I did get the impression he may be starting out. While the others had business cards, he had a flyer printout with his information and services on there. There is nothing wrong with that at all but it did give me the impression that he may be starting out.

Hopefully we will be able to get some references that we can follow up with tomorrow. So far the things I have heard here are making me feel a little better about the possibility of using this contractor.

Thanks!

dt
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This (the seemingly low bid) may result from the fact that he is actually the one who will do the work. The other contractors you talked to would most likely send one or two other people to do the work and pay them...around $75-$80 apiece, and pocket the remaining $450 for themselves. Ask the low bidder if he is the one who will do the work, and then call the higher bidders and ask them if they will personally be doind the work or sending out "employees".

He will be doing the work himself and he said he has a helper that would come with him.

Of the other people we talked to, one guy works alone and said he does not have any crew/helpers. Another guy said he has a crew but for a job like this he would do it himself with one helper. And the other company had a crew and the guy that came to the house would not be one of the installers.

From first impressions, we liked the guy that worked alone and the guy with the low-ball estimate, with the guy that has a crew but would do the install being a close second. We have ruled out the other company.

dt
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I got some work done from a "low-ball" quoter to have the tiles and wall booard replaced and regrouted behind two shower stalls and the tile regrouted on a few others. The quote was for $ 500. I was told to expect to pay up to $1000 to do just one wall board replacement job from a tile guy at Home Depot. The guy who actually did the work didn't speak any english but he sure was a craftsman. It was far better than expected! If the company or person has been around for a while and has some good references it probably is worth a try.

Frank,

Thanks for the feedback from a similar situation. It helps ease that feeling of "you get what you pay for" as we try to do more due diligence.

Tomorrow I plan on getting some references from him and the other guy we are considering. In addition, I need to find out how long this particular person has been doing this type of work. My DW forgot to ask him that when he stopped out at the house.

Thanks again.

dt
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dt,

When I was in college, in the summers, I worked for a general contractor. When we did a job like this, the quote varied based on
how fancy or plain the door was.

So if your door cost about 600.00, then the charge was 600.00

Why?

If I make a mistake and damage your door I have to replace it and do the work for free.

A $600 door required a $600 install fee.

HTH

Jdb
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Sounds to me like a guy working to make a decent wage for himself - but without the overhead or markups of supporting a crew


exactly the kind of guy I look for, but I would check with some of his prior customers (ask him their names) and call to see if they were satisified with his work before hiring him. Reliability is everything.


L
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Sounds to me like a guy working to make a decent wage for himself - but without the overhead or markups of supporting a crew


exactly the kind of guy I look for, but I would check with some of his prior customers (ask him their names) and call to see if they were satisified with his work before hiring him. Reliability is everything.


We have asked him for references and left messages with them yesterday but have not yet heard back. If we do not hear from them by late Monday, then I will call again on Tuesday.

And after breaking down the price and estimated time to complete the job, I really get the feeling the other guys are inflating their price as it may be a job they don't really want. And even at the lower price from the one guy, it would appear he is still making a decent wage at those prices.

Thanks for the feedback. At this point, I think we are going to go with this guy unless the references come back with something negative to say. Although I am not sure a contractor would give out the name/number of anyone that was not pleased with their work.

dt
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