Should Kitchen & Bathroom Renovation Estimates Be Free?

Lou VaughnThe correct answer to this question is whatever you decide to do after you read the following. I’ve made hundreds of home visits/estimates over the last two decades. My following insight has developed as a result. So let’s see if I qualify for a free estimate.

During my assessment, I’m going to be thorough in what’s going to be involved. This takes time and effort. The average time spent on my visit to a home and then back to the office and then creating the itemized bid with allowances involves a minimum of two hours.

Prior to 2008, bidding was relatively simple. Most of us contractors got 90 percent of the projects called in to bid. There was more trust. Today, consumers are remodeler shopping, so landing the projects poses new dynamics.


How Can You Lower The Cost Going Right Into This Project?

Today, there are twice as many remodeling contractors to choose from than there were prior to the market crash. Maybe one skillful approach to winning your project is to offer low pricing that without question poses undisclosed discounted services by some crafty ways. This approach, unfortunately, has been around as long as I can remember. With a large number of contractors in the industry today, it’s happening more. The remodeling industry labor shortage our country is experiencing doesn’t help either. Big Box store shopping is another way to reduce cost too, however, most of the finishes, i.e. sink tops, sink and shower faucets, etc. are not the quality expected and this is discovered later when it breaks or bust. They look good but don’t hold up as expected. I do see the unseen cost for that approach, and generally, the homeowner ends up paying for in more ways than one. It can be a disruptive and an unfortunate situation.

FYI – As a tip, most of the home remodeling shows are not transparent in cost. If they were, we might turn the channel.


Are You Updating For Re-sale?

If so, unfortunately at this present time I do not offer any design or installation services for such projects. Most listing agents have a list of contractors for you to look at for this. This is a great way to connect with that agent. I do have an alternative resource that may be able to help. You can email me for that info. if you would like.


Free Estimates Defined

  1. Free estimates can send mixed messages to homeowners and here’s a couple of examples of what it may say: 1. Great, it’s free, that’s cheap!  2. That contractor didn’t spend much time studying our space, he seemed to be in a hurry. But, he did measure a couple of walls however, I’m not sure if he understood about moving the frig over to the other side of the room, maybe he didn’t hear me. The list of questions can be many.
  2. The free estimate approach is more than less a guesstimate. A guesstimate in the dictionary is defined as “an estimate based on a mixture of guesswork and calculation”. The truth about this is that often the guestimate is the number used to close the deal. If that guesstimate hasn’t been thoroughly thought out and isn’t correct in covering the contractor’s expenses, then often once the project is on its way, you’re stuck with surprised bills for items missed during that free time given. Yes, indeed sometimes there will be some items that just can’t be seen, as an example, until the drywall is removed. However, there are many elements that are sure to be missed with just a couple of minutes looking around.
  3. About The Free Consult! I see this as more than less a free guesstimate, estimate proposal and a check is written wrapped up as one…for lack of better term. This method of sales typically involves a sit-down presentation. The salesman may take anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes or better. He or she most often will share a number that will for sure cover the expenses of all the staff that will be involved. This meeting is generally presenting the companies creditability. Generally, by the end of this meeting, you will purchase a contract to start the design process. This is an approach that is needed for some. Unfortunately, I do not offer this type of presentation at this time. My initial meeting primarily involves listening to your wants and needs. At this meeting, I will also take a look at your space to be renovated to get an idea of what’s going to be involved in accommodating you. With all that said, If you feel that you want one that will do the sit-down presentation, I can offer some referrals.

What I See As Maybe A Good Idea For A Free Estimate!

An example of where maybe a free estimate makes sense is if you are looking at replacing your hot water heater. It’s not something you will look at and touch every day. It’s not a product that you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on. Generally, it only takes a plumber about 10 minutes to assess and offer a good sound product.


The Conclusion As To Why I Charge For Estimates

In creating your estimate, I’m going to be thorough in my studies of what’s going to be involved. The average time spent on my visit to your home and then back to the office and then creating the itemized estimate with allowances involves a minimum of two hours. Let me elaborate a little on what my study involves. The kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects are made up as a system, consisting of several dedicated systems, i.e. plumbing, electrical, wall removals, HVAC ducting changes, etc. To get to that number your wondering about, some quick initial designing concepts must take place. This design work involves the vision of the mechanicals and finishes combined and configurated to develop a concept that becomes your unique design and one that you will appreciate.

The purchase of a home is one of the largest investments we as homeowners make in our lives. My objective is to add additional value to your investment. I want you to enjoy what you see and use every day for years to come. Most importantly, I want you to be comfortable knowing that everything was done right.


Lou Vaughn’s Estimate Pricing

A Minimal Trip Charge Of $25.00 – For the less involved bathroom remodel projects, typically just some minor updates. If it’s a smaller project, I can offer some advice and share a general idea if what kind of cost to expect. At this meeting, if you decide that you want a written estimate, I will give you a quote then on the cost to do so. Generally speaking, you are looking at an additional $25.00 for an itemized written quote with allowances. A small project is one defined as $10,000.00 or less

All Kitchen Estimates & Large Bathroom Renovation Projects – A minimal trip charge of $50.00. At this meeting, I will note the changes you want. I will create your estimate at my office and email it to you generally within 48 hours. The cost for the itemized estimate with allowances is generally around $100.00. A large project is defined as one at $10,000.00 or more.


Please be advised that any home built prior to 1978 may be subject to the EPA’s RRP rule. The rule requires us to follow some very particular safety guidelines in regards to the removal of lead-based painted surfaces. We do offer to perform a test for a minimal of $150.00. The hiring of Lou Vaughn for the test performed is only for the purpose of hiring him for your renovation. Please Go Here for more information pertaining when the rule applies and compliance is required and what the rule states for exclusion.

SCHEDULE YOUR KITCHEN ESTIMATE HERE SCHEDULE YOUR BATHROOM ESTIMATE HERE