You may have had the question posed to you: “Do you want to fly in an airplane that you know was built by the lowest bidder?”
Hiring the contractor with the lowest bid for a remodeling project may be just as foolish. So the question then is, why? Let’s look at some of the reasons:
You won’t have complete plans for each contractor to look at in order to get an “apples to apples” bid. So the honorable contractor will include all the elements (like molding, light sockets and so on) that are not on the plans, but should be. An inexperienced (or shady) contractor will not include those things, and therefore will give you a lower bid.
When it is too late to change contractors, you will have to pay for those extras.
Some people get bids in order to see how much the project their architect designed will cost. That takes an enormous amount of a contractor’s time for a job he may not get. Many contractors will no longer do competitive bidding.
Since competitive bidding is still viewed by some as the only way to control construction costs, lowest price may be over emphasized at the expense of quality, value and service. A contractor who does engage in the competitive bidding process incurs the expense of estimating as well; and, because that contractor usually has to bid a number of jobs in order to secure one construction contract, he/she has to work that expense into his/her pricing on contracted projects to recover costs.
What are the alternatives to competitive bidding? Find an excellent contractor (whom you judge by face-to-face meeting, talking to staff, talking to references, visiting prior jobs, searching to internet, considering awards and professional certifications), and an excellent architect or designer (judged by the same criteria), and put these two stellar individuals together to design and build your remodel.
Or hire a design-build firm where the designer and builders are in the same firm. This way, when the designer comes up with an idea that would blow your budget, the contractor will make that known immediately.
Or, if your project doesn’t need a designer or architect, go with a reputable contractor that you have done your homework on.