Although it is a good idea to get estimates, ideas, and suggestions about your construction project from multiple contractors, few consumers are aware of the hidden costs contractors incur providing free estimates. In the truest sense of the word, free estimates are not free.
Contractors get potential clients to contact them a few different ways. One way is to pay lead generating companies on a lead-by-lead basis to connect contractors with consumers looking for construction services. Another way is through radio and/or print advertisements. Both methods can cost contractors upwards of thousands of dollars on a monthly basis.
Many of the lead generating companies are not consumer friendly. Sometimes, their “preferred” contractors are not licensed or insured to perform the scope of work of your project (i.e. roofing, electrical, plumbing, etc.). The radio and/or print advertisements cast a single, broad message to many consumers in different demographics.
Imagine if you contacted 10 contractors for estimates … Each contractor must drive to your home, discuss your project wants and needs, and inspect the area in question. Then, each contractor uses some form of estimating software to produce a written estimate. By the time each contractor provides you a written estimate, you could have easily racked up several hundred dollars (if not thousands) in estimate fees altogether.
If you are wanting the least expensive estimate possible, let the contractor know when you call for an estimate. The contractor may simply tell you he/she will not be the cheapest or he/she can develop an estimate more in line with your budget. The more the contractor knows about your budget and your project, the better he/she can design a project you can afford and will enjoy.