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Recently, during my time in Ottawa, I had an enlightening conversation with a third-generation restoration contractor. We discussed our experiences in the industry, focusing on how the quality and workmanship of a project are intricately tied to the quoted value. In today’s competitive economy, contractors vie for available jobs, facing the challenge of identical material costs, a diminishing supply of parts, and rising overhead expenses. Navigating this competitive landscape requires a blend of experience and creativity.

Profits and Overhead

For any company, profitability is essential for survival. The longevity and success of a company hinge on effective management and efficient project execution. Inexperienced contractors who plunge into projects with unrealistic profit expectations jeopardize their businesses. Hoping to secure a job, they often provide unrealistically low estimates, only to face the need for drastic changes once the job is underway. These changes might involve compromising on material quality, engaging in inadequate or illegal trade practices, or resorting to unskilled and cheap labor. The outcome is a project that is inherently unsafe and prone to premature failure. Every project has a fair value based on current material costs, labor, and overhead.

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Get Recommendations and References

When selecting a contractor for a residential project, the best approach is to seek recommendations and references from neighbors or family who have worked with tradespeople with proven track records. If estimates exceed your budget, consider reevaluating your project’s scope or postponing it until your financial situation improves. There is always a fair price for any project, and it’s crucial to interview and feel confident in the individuals providing quotations. Check references, consult the Better Business Bureau, seek awards and accreditation, and investigate the history of your potential choices.

How To Protect Yourself

To shield yourself from cost overruns and legal issues, ensure that any quotation you receive is detailed about the project’s scope. Obtain copies of all required permits, including building permits, development permits, and permits for electrical, gas, and plumbing work. Demand inspectors’ reports from the city upon the job’s completion. Unfortunately, instances occur where contractors claim permits are unnecessary, leading to code violations and local regulation breaches as they attempt to cut costs and boost profits after quoting a low price. Homeowners typically embark on projects like these only once, so conduct thorough due diligence, research your contractor, and prioritize value over the potentially misleading allure of the cheapest quotation.