We’ve all heard the term low-ball bid thrown around, but do you really understand what it means and how to avoid falling victim to it? The low-ball bid comes up everywhere, as plenty of businesses or contractors use it as their primary selling technique. Is it ethical? No, but that certainly doesn’t diminish it’s usage. In terms of an outdoor living project, we understand this is no minuscule investment. In fact, if done properly, it can actually increase the value of your home! Remember, there’s no shortage of sub-par contractors that won’t hesitate to play the low-ball bid tactic on you! We’re here to ensure you’re properly informed.
What is a low-ball bid?
Simply put, low-ball bids are when a contractor offers an attractive price (usually significantly below the industry’s average) that they’re sure the customer will accept. Then, once they have this commitment (could be a verbal agreement, signed contract, or down payment), they’ll add to the contract at later time. Since construction might already be started or close to starting, the client will be angry, but will ultimately be forced to agree.
How do I spot this?
Early recognition is the easiest way to prevent this from happening to you. Once you get too far into the process, there’s typically no turning back. With hardscape projects, we can’t stress enough the importance of doing your research.
How long have they been in business? Are they trained to perform these installations? Do their designers possess any educational degrees/certificates that show their not just an Average Joe that’s been designing patios on The Sims? Kidding aside, these are real questions you should be asking.
Why are they cheaper than the rest?
As fellow homeowners, we get it. You want a functional, beautiful outdoor living space that matches your vision you had in the early design stages. At the same time, you don’t necessarily want to break the bank to make this happen! With this in mind, the price of the project is obviously going to be a determining factor. As opposed to just viewing your quotes as a total price, don’t hesitate to dig deeper. Make sure everything you are wanting is included in the bid. If one contractor is offering a significantly lower price per square foot of stamped concrete, chances are some red flags could be raised. This is where you go back to experience and testimonials for further evaluation.
Patience is Key!
Building a beautiful hardscape project is not something that happens overnight. The majority of quality, well-known contractors can have wait-times of 2 months or longer. There’s simply no getting around this fact. If you get a bid on a project that seems too good to be true, here’s a few things to consider:
- Desperate for Work – Many small contractors struggle to find projects to keep their crews busy during down times (winter), so they might be willing to offer bargains upfront to get their foot in the door. This also proves they probably haven’t been all that busy during the rest of the year.
- Pointless Warranty – Warranties can be tricky. Everyone seems to offer them, but many of them are actually meaningless. If a contractor that’s been in business for 6-months offers a 5-year warranty, it doesn’t mean anything because you don’t even know if they’ll still be here then!
- Cheaper Materials – An easy way for contractors to beat the competition on price is to offer lower-quality materials. While this may save you a few extra bucks from the start, it will likely come back to haunt you in the form of repair costs.
- Inexperienced Designers – Creating a design for an outdoor living space is not something that anyone can readily accomplish. To get the best result, you need a designer that’s no rookie. The reason why this is so important is the need to properly gauge the overall flow. A poorly designed space won’t just look bad, but could lead to safety concerns. One example of this we witnessed first-hand was the placement of a grill too close to the house!
Ready to Get Started?
At Hinkle Hardscapes, we are passionate about bringing our client’s visions to realities. In doing so, one of the core elements of our company culture is transparency. We didn’t get in this business just to make a quick buck. We’re in it for the long haul and look forward to working with you! Click below to get started today!