Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Contractors - The Estimates are In

I kept my word and got more than one estimate for our potential kitchen remodeling job. I've already done the review on what I thought about them coming out. You can see that here: ~ You'll note that David Harmon was way ahead in "points" which, I have to admit, I liked because I'd rather support smaller businesses & "the little guy." (He is shorter than me, but that is just a coincidence -- I'm pretty damn tall!)

First, I have to note something. I was hesitant to list the actual dollar amounts of the estimates. You never know what all you want to reveal, what you should keep to yourself. But, I want to be honest about this project and so I'm going to tell you. Just know, I thought it over some first.

So, one week to the day each after they came out they contacted me with the estimates. David Harmon called me Sunday night and then dropped off the paperwork for me early Monday morning. Here is his estimate:
"Renovation of kitchen will include, demolition of chimney, reroute hvac duct work. Free up existing wall to make room for refrigerator. Convert two existing corner cabinets for lazy susan. Add three new cabinets where refrigerator was. Build 2' x 3' island with butcher block tops. Add exhaust for kitchen range. Tile existing counter tops and backsplash with tile supplied by homeowner. Lay provided tile in kitchen and laundry room floors. Add pine tongue and groove wood ceiling with trim to kitchen. Add four can lights and move existing sink light closer to sink. Add under cabinet lights. Fur out walls and add insulation and drywall and three glass block windows to back room. Add new entry door to that room. Widen opening from back room to laundry room. Build and install two cabinets in back room. Sand, repair, and paint floor in back room. Remove existing shower and move washer and dryer and add shelves to laundry room."
*Note - we will be buying the new fridge & stove as well as the tile needed. We will also hire our own plumber (we have the BEST plumber EVER!!) to do any plumbing work needed. He did say he has a plumber, but we really love our guy.*

Total Estimated Cost: $8965.00

Tuesday afternoon Rob Leonard from Structures called me. Here is what he had to say:
1) This is a much smaller job than what they would normally do. - Wow, thanks, don't I feel like the small fish suddenly.
2) The estimate he's giving me would include the following:
- gut area, rework it, all new appliances
- green upgrade
- variables with flooring - meaning even though I told him we wanted tile apparently there are lots of options as to what actually might go in
- seeing what we could salvage might dial cost down a bit

Now remember, I told BOTH contractors the same thing, as I wanted to see what they could come up with: problems around the chimney that houses the flue for the boiler; the cabinets are good, but there is an issue of access in ONE corner that needs help; we need a new stove & fridge, but we've been looking at those already; I need more space for working; light is an issue; the back hallway and bathroom could be better worked to fit our needs (pantry, laundry room, etc).
So, to translate the above a little bit (I was jotting down his words as he spoke, I have nothing in writing from them) -- He/They (Structures) apparently didn't listen to one damn thing I said. AND NOTE ... there is no "here's what to expect when we're done" type of thing up there!!

Total Estimated Cost: between $70,000 & $85,000 -- YEA, Seventy to Eighty Five THOUSAND!!! -- Points awarded for me not laughing into the phone.

I told Mr. Leonard that estimate was well above our budget. He asked what our budget was. When I told him a generic $15k (which, in all honesty, it isn't even that high!) he pretty much laughed at me. He told me that maybe I could find some friends who knew what they were doing to help me out.
Apparently Structures is going green because of how much green they're charging people. You seriously have to be kidding me.

So, there you have it. Hmm, who do you think we're gonna go with if everything lines up and we're able to do this?? The big company who has attempted to make us feel small and insignificant, who has treated us like they're a mega-company and we're more of a pity-call than a potential client?? NOT QUITE!!!
Or how about the individual guy who started his own company? The guy who was here for two hours one day, leaving me all giddy and excited about possibilities, and then who came back a couple days later to talk to both Justin & I and climb up in the attic, go down in the basement and explore the realities of the house? The guy who actually gave me an idea of what things would look like when he's done? YEA -- If this goes through, we know who we're gonna call (cue Ghostbusters theme music here please)!!!


Jeremy Holmes said...

When we did our attic/2nd floor remodeling, we had a similar experience. One contractor came in right our budget - construction work, electrical updates, and new HVAC included. Structures wanted to charge us the price of a second house to do the same work. We went with the first guy.

pete mai said...

Hi Carrie, feel free to post or not post this but just wanted to make you aware of an item I make for corners called the KornerKIng. It is a good upgrade from a normal lazy susan. If you get a chance check out video at

Pete Mai

Carole and Chewy said...

Ask even the little guy for references. I wonder if Structures
intentionally highballs jobs they don't want to do, just to get rid of them? Poor way to do business.
BTW if you need any Italian quarry tile in a eath/sand/tan color, we have a bunch on our backporch we bought from habitat - no need for it-yours if you want it. Probably enough to do countertops, maybe a small bathroom. LMK

Knitterwockey said...

So, was Structures planning on building you an entirely new house with that estimate? That's just insane!

Elena said...

Something similar happened to us a few years ago when I wanted to extend my kitchen and make an enclosed porch. We had asked someone we "knew" who usually worked on new homes. The price we were quoted was ridiculous, like six figure ridiculous. I didn't like the way he made me feel either and I told my husband the guy wasn't interested in the job so made up some enornmous sum. He turned me off so much that I never pursued another quote. This same guy recently had to lay off his entire staff because there has been no new home construction. I bet he wouldn't be too big to take my job now.

Good luck with your renovations!

Carrie and Justin said...

@ Jeremy - Glad to know it wasn't just us!

@ Pete - Those are very neat. I'll definitely keep them in mind if we have a space they would work for.

@ Carole - YES!! I would LOVE to come see your tile! :) Thank you!

@ Bailie - That's pretty much what Justin said. :P

@ Elena - I was a little surprised by their attitude since construction isn't exactly a booming business right now. But, as you saw, what goes around comes around!