Before Remodeling, Always Get 3 Bids

(October 10, 2014)

As you might have guessed from the name of my website,, I buy houses. I've had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of homeowners in every situation you can imagine. Many of the properties I buy require replacing old roofs, HVAC systems, plumbing, electrical, and windows. You name it, it probably needs to be replaced. Whether it’s one of those items or many of them, I’ve had to deal with many subcontractors who do the actual repairs or replacement. So, when I hear that a homeowner is toying with the idea of fixing up a property themselves before selling, I ask them to please proceed with caution.

Remodeling a room, let alone a house, is like opening Pandora’s box. You never know what costly surprise you may uncover. And, unless you're a licensed contractor, you won't know how to do everything yourself, nor should you for liability reasons. You will most likely have to put your faith into a few professionals. With the internet at everyone's fingertips, contractors are not hard to find. You can even read reviews from previous customers who have left reviews on websites like Yelp, Google Reviews and Angie's List. So, if you find a professional with great reviews, are you good to go? Unfortunately, the answer is no. You must get at least 3 bids from different contractors to ensure you are making a good choice.

Let me explain why by telling you about a situation that happened to me recently. We are currently remodeling a property in South Orange County. We’re in need of some minor electrical work, so I browsed the internet and found an electrician that looked very promising (our electrician is busy with other jobs and doesn't travel that far south of LA, anyway).

The electrician we found had over 75 glowing reviews and was very professional over the phone. After doing a walk-thru of our property, he called to let me know that the job would be "between 15 and 18". I assumed we were speaking in hundreds, making his price spot on with similar remodels we’ve done in the past. But when I received his bid via email, I realized he was speaking thousands. My first reaction was to laugh until I realized that people who are not in the business of remodeling might think that this is a fair price. How many of those 75+ reviewers were ripped off? I immediately called 3 other electricians. I'm still awaiting 2 of the bids, but the third came in at at $4,000 (which is still too much in my opinion, but it just goes to show you how inflated the original bid was). Moral of the story? GET 3 BIDS.

photo credit: essgee51 via photopin cc

Jennifer Shenbaum

Written by Jennifer Shenbaum

Jennifer Shenbaum is a real estate investor based in Southern California. She is a veteran of the housing market crash of 2007. Best of all, she offers free remodeling ideas to all who ask.

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