When you are dealing with a contractor, you need to know that sometimes pricing out a specific job can be quite difficult. This anecdote is a true story, that will illustrate the difficulty of pricing out work in certain circumstances. This week, we were in an office that needed a specialized door install. This door is a custom sliding door that has lead in it. This is common in Medical facilities almost all which have specialized lead requirements. Lead doors are heavy. Just adding a sliding door to a wall is not necessarily a solution. Depending on the wall construction, there could be many modifications that need to be made to the wall. For example if the wall is made out of light gauge steel studs, wood blocking might need to be added. This means removing drywall to add the blocking in. Then in addition to actually installing the door, re-drywalling, taping and painting (in some cases matching wall paper) is also necessary. Also the studs if they are not wide enough might not be able to support the door. This means demolishing the entire wall and building a new one from scratch. A lot of this is unknown to a contractor until they actually start to perform the work. The problem is, the client is almost always paying for the worst case scenario. This means the contractor would price the job out as if they would be demolishing and rebuilding the wall from scratch. If this is not the case, the contractor ends up with a bigger margin. If it is the case, then at least they were prepared for doing that scope of work.
If you are a client, you can try to work with your contractor in the following ways:
Ask if the contractor will work hourly
Have conditional pricing (Go through the scenarios of potential construction difficulties and get them to price out each of them)
It is becoming more common for Contractors to work along side Clients to help work out the many unknowns in a renovation. This helps jobs to be more cost effective and will keep both the contractors and their clients happy.