Comparing contractor quotes is an essential step of the window replacement process. A recent Modernize survey revealed 63 percent of homeowners compare three to four contractor estimates ahead of a home improvement project. Evaluating multiple quotes helps homeowners scope their budget and encourages contractors to be competitive with their pricing. It’s important to understand your window estimates and why quotes may vary from each other.
The Difference Between Estimates and Quotes
The terminology used with your home improvement projects is important. You may receive estimates, quotes, or bids from local contractors, but these contain different information.
An estimate on a project is roughly how much the professional believes the job will cost. A contractor will use their past experience and expertise to make this estimate. The actual cost of the project may be more or less— within 10 to 15 percent.
A quote, or bid, becomes a contract once it is signed. This should be a very detailed document that outlines all aspects of the project. At Modernize, we pair homeowners with contractors that offer free quotes for their window project.
Evaluating Window Replacement Quotes
Once you have received multiple quotes, it’s important to carefully consider each. Your project quote should be transparent, thorough, and even lengthy— depending on the scope of your window replacement. Every detail of the project should be noted, including the cost of materials, start and finish dates, and hourly rate. Your quote should also include factors like disposal/dumpsters, permits, and even porta-potties. Labor should also be included in your quote.
It is important to consider the numbers— as well as how they are presented. A good contractor will make sure the information is in an organized document. For example, your bid should read “two basement hopper windows” instead of “basement windows.”
If your quote is not properly itemized, feel comfortable asking for a revised quote before signing a contract.
Your Window Replacement Quotes May Vary
Ideally, your window project quotes will be very similar, but sometimes bids will be wildly different. Extremely low bids can be the sign of a scam. It’s important to understand why an estimate or quote is extremely high or low.
Factors that will lead to a higher bid:
- High-end contractors will likely have more equipment and overhead.
- Window prices, depending on the brand and type, can vary by hundreds of dollars. The price jump may be due to the windows themselves. We encourage homeowners to research the lifespan, energy efficiency, and price of their windows to find what works best for your home and budget.
- Warranties will also impact your quoted cost. Many windows come with 25-year warranties, which saves homeowners time if there are problems in the future.
- Research and be aware of hidden costs. Discuss these factors with your contractors.
Factors that will lead to a lower bid:
- If a contractor does not have proper insurance (or any at all), they will often provide a lower bid. This may leave the homeowner responsible for laborer injuries or damages that occur. Modernize recommends that homeowners always select a licensed contractor for their home improvement project.
- If there has been a recent hurricane or storm, and demand for home improvement projects are high, scammers may prey on stressed homeowners. If a bid is too good to be true, it probably is.
- Extremely low bidders may also be desperate for a job, which is never a reassuring sign.
For both high and low bids, always check your window replacement quotes for errors. Contractors are human and, while rare, errors can happen. Communicate any and all questions and concerns with your contractors.
Research Your Contractors
Vetting your contractors will ensure you find the best, reliable professional for your project.
Visit their website to ensure it is professional looking and updated. Check review sites and make sure they are accredited through the Better Business Bureau. Look at a contractor’s content information to make sure they have a physical address and not a P.O. Box (which can be a worrisome sign).
If something feels off about a contractor or business— go with your gut.
To help homeowners easily vet and find a trusted window contractor, Modernize recently created a free contractor checklist. You can access the interactive checklist by visiting the Modernize Homeowner Portal or by downloading it here.
Homeowners Can Negotiate Bids
Remember, you can always negotiate with your contractor on the price for the successful project before signing a contract. Discuss your budget with your contractors. Agree that any unexpected project expenses will be presented in writing to help you remain within your budget.
Keep All Paperwork
Lastly, keep all estimates, quotes, and contracts in a folder, so you can reference these details easily if you have any questions or concerns throughout your window replacement.