The Truth Behind Being on Budget, Stebnitz Builders, Delavan, WI


I was flipping through my Twitter feed the other day when I came across what I thought was an interesting article I thought would forward on for you all to enjoy. But, after reading the entire blog, I realized that not only could I not stand behind all the information they were giving, but they were REALLY off on some of the advice.

The Salt Lake City Deseret News (here) contributors Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer from Renovation Solutions explained how homeowners considering a remodeling project could ensure that they 1) Don't run out of money before they completely finish a project and 2) avoid scope creep, or pay more than what they were expecting.

But, unfortunately, some of their advice is misguided.

"(These problems) can be avoided by carefully selecting a contractor. However, even good contractors can sometimes miss the mark on an estimate."

Good contractors, professional contractors, offer a package bid on the work you are looking to complete. This should be detailed to the extent that descriptions of all products and fixtures they are using should be included in the estimate and contract. If it simply says "cabinets" and not the make and model of that cabinet with specific finish and door detail, you're opening yourself up to a "he said, she said" situation as you cannot prove the contractor didn't propose the base cabinet line while you were expecting the top-end line. A professional contractor ensures there is no confusion as to what you are and are not receiving in their contract.

Make sure it's detailed out in writing.

"Architects, or other project consultants, offer bid review services. Having a professional help you review and compare contractor bids can help you save money and avoid accepting bids that don't reflect the true cost of the work."


Not accurate. Your contractor who has put this bid together SHOULD be your professional. It would be like taking your car down to the mechanic to see what's making that noise under the hood and after getting his detailed estimate, you take it to a person who's been in the industry for some time and asking them to tell you if their answer was correct and accurate - without even looking at your car.

If trust is an issue before the project starts, be concerned. Find a contractor you have the utmost trust in and work closely with that contractor to establish a project that fits your needs and your budget. Getting multiple bids is also not the answer. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, there are too many variables that can't be controlled or may not even be realized. The more complex the project, the more details in the estimate and the more options that can be used in accomplishing that kitchen addition, for instance, the more variables you will have. Just looking at the bottom number is a dangerous game that more times than not will lead to a regrettable decision. Interview as many contractors as you can about who they are and how they run their business and then pick the one you feel most comfortable with.


Here are 8 factors that often vary between a professional remodeling company and a less-than-professional remodeler that you won't see in the estimate or the bottom line. All of these can have a dramatic affect on your experience and your bottom line.

  1. Warranty - Will they stand behind their work and the work of their trades? If there are issues, how quickly are they resolved and were those resolutions acceptable to past clients?
  2. Experience - How long have they been doing this and what is their track record with other projects like this? Interview 3-5 people from their client base.
  3. Professionalism - Are they members of local, state and national associations that keep them apprised of changes in industry rules and codes? Are they part of making their industry a better place or are they here for the next job?
  4. Responsiveness - Do they have the ability to call you back in a timely manner regarding questions or problems that may arise?
  5. Timeliness in getting your project done on time and not bouncing between projects.
  6. Certifications and professional designations - the state of WI DOES have a contractor license it requires.
  7. Insurance - including Workman's Compensation Insurance
  8. Financial stability - will they be around to finish the project, or even get the materials in time without getting all of your money up front to pay for it?

These eight factors are only dealing with the type of contractor you're using and don't even deal with the way they are planning that kitchen addition. Those variances are too many to list. So, unless you have been in the industry for several years and are familiar with how each contractor is aligning their estimates, the only constant you will be able to compare between estimates is the price.

If you have questions about your remodeling project you've been considering, whether you want more information on this process and how Stebnitz Builders excels at the remodeling experience, give us a call at (800) 410-8027. From Whitewater to Delavan Lake and Lake Geneva areas all the way south as far as Lake In The Hills, Il, Stebnitz Builders would be honored to present our process and gain your trust in order to become your remodeler of choice.



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