I’ve been getting quotes on the work to be done on my investment condo, and that’s been a very interesting process. I’m doing a complete gut of the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, with the removal of part of a non-structural wall and the relocation, as a result, of a switch and wall plug.
I’m sourcing out and buying the cupboards, the tiles, and all the fixtures, and I’ve arranged to have the new granite countertop installed by Granstone. All that will cost around $ 17,000.
So this one is pretty straightforward. Some demolition work, drywall, tiling, and installation of new fixtures with electrical and plumbing. The contractor will supply materials like drywall, grout, mortar etc.
I contacted three contractors. One has done work in my office, and I’ve seen the quality of his work and have gotten to know him. He is not insured but uses a licensed electrician; I said I could use my own plumber.
The other two came highly recommended. One was a lead through Home Depot, where I will be buying my cupboards, and the third was a referral from a friend who is a contractor himself but was too busy to take my project on.
I did up a detailed Scope of Work so that each contractor would have exactly the same information. I expected that the three quotes for labour would come in pretty close together. Boy, was I wrong.
The first quote was for $ 4,400 plus plumbing. The plumber will run about $1,000-1,500, so that’s roughly $ 6K in labour and materials, or $ 23K in total for the renovation, which was a bit lower than I expected because of the part wall reconstruction. (Sloan Markey at Kitchen and Baths, for example, who had helped me take the measurements said their basic kitchens came in at around $ 15K and it would be around $ 7K for a bathroom, including cabinets and other fixtures.) But it wasn’t far off.
The second quote was for $ 17,400, for a total renovation cost of $ 34,400.
And the third (a ball park estimate, as opposed to a detailed quote) came in at a whopping $ 38K in labour and materials for a total of $ 55,000.
Now, I know that people have to make a profit, but the $ 11K difference in labour costs between contractor two and three (who both use insured and licensed tradesmen) was pretty staggering. I certainly wasn’t expecting a more than $ 30K difference between the first quote and the third.
Does anyone remember Canada’s Best Handyman? One of the competitive tasks was for the contenders to quote on a simple job. I remember being surprised when I saw how wildly apart their numbers were, even though they were all experienced contractors. That’s the first time I realized that quoting work is an art, not a science.
I don’t doubt any one of these contractors would do a good job; they all have terrific references and take great pride in their work. But I don’t need to tell you which one I’m going with.