Do You Get Several Estimates?

My girlfriends and I were discussing this topic recently…. when you need to hire someone to do some work on your home- paint a room, replace a boiler (!), repair a leaky faucet, do you have multiple service providers come to your home to give you an estimate? Or do you just get a recommedation from a friend or off of Angie’s List and go with the first guy you make an appontment with?

From my own informal survey among my friends and on Facebook- I find that most women don’t bother getting multiple estimates for work. Some girlfreinds have confessed that they “feel bad” asking someone to come out and spend time with them answering questions and preparing the estimate, and then not give that person the business. But I say, “Get over it!” Service providers do not expect to get every single job they bid on- and business is business. You should never feel badly about making a better decision for your family’s household budget! It’s your money, spend it wisely! And get several estimates!
Car on Lift by Nick Ares
*image courtesy of Flickr/Nick Ares

Real-Life Examples:

Last year the side panels on my big Mommy bus were starting to show little bits of rust, and I knew I needed to have this taken care of. I took my car to three different places for estimates, and the first place quite frankly really scared me! The guy actually told me that I should just consider selling the car!  He said that once you get to the point where you start seeing rust, no matter how much they sand it down- it always returns. Usually within 4-6 months. So I took it to a second place-and he said he could do it, but he also wouldn’t guarantee the work because quite often the rust problem comes back. (But at least I had a price from this guy).
I felt I was in a pickle- and my car was on its way to ruin! Next I called the dealership where I have it serviced, and asked them to tell me where they would take their own Sprinter van for a rust issue, and they gave me the name of another paint shop- who told me that the could absolutely sand it down enough and that I should never have to worry about the rust coming back (in the same place at least). They gave me a fair price, and were willing to squeeze me in so that I could have it done before we left for our big road trip last summer. Here I am a year later and there is no sign of rust coming back on my car at all. And you better believe that if I ever have a problem again, I’ll be going back to the same place that took such good care of me.
Moving boxes1
When we decided to move, we asked a friend for a mover recommendation. This friend-of-a-friend came to our house and gave me such a huge estimate that I literally sat down and cried after he left. I then called company #2- and while he gave me a lower estimate, it was still more than double what I had budgeted for our move. So I researched two more companies on Angie’s List and had them come out and give me two more estimates. But this time I was smarter. I had already learned so much by going through the process with the first two guys, that I knew what questions to ask and what points to push to get the price down (like moving some of the odd items like mowers and honeybee boxes on our own). I also made it clear that I would be getting several estimates.
These two estimates were half the price of guy #2 and 1/3 of the price of guy #1. They also had “caps” meaning the job couldn’t ever be more than 5% over what was estimated. I felt SO much better making my decision after I did all of this research with multiple companies.
Plumber via Wonderlane
*image courtesy of Flickr/Wonderlane

Still not feeling comfortable?

Here are my thoughts on why you should get several estimates on jobs costing more than a couple of hundred dollars:

1. It Makes You a More Educated Consumer

Just as I experienced with my movers, the more you talk to people about the job you need to have done, the more you’ll understand what’s required to complete it. And you’ll know what questions to ask when the second or third service man comes to your house.

2. Providers Will Sharpen Their Pencil More if They Know They Need to Be Competitive!

If you are having multiple estimates done, be sure to share that fact with everyone that comes to your door! For one thing, they will try to be more price competitive if they know you are getting other estimates. And when you need to release the guy you decide not to use, it won’t be a total surprise to him that he didn’t get the job.

3. Money Isn’t the Only Factor in Your Decision

I am not saying that you should always go with the cheapest guy (sometimes we don’t). But when you decide to pay a higher price, you’ll feel more confident that you know what you are paying for, and you’ll feel comfortable knowing that you made the best possible decision for whatever work you are having done.
So where do you fall on getting multiple estimates?

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  1. Amy says

    I always do and I love the ones that treat me like a dumb broad – I can really get them going, because let me tell you – if needed I will make it a point to teach myself how to fix or build whatever it is.

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