Note: When referring to “Low Bidders” we are not referring to all low bidders on every project, but these are factors you will want to think about before hiring a low bid contractor.
1- Gaps and Different Project Scope
When comparing bids that contractors give you, an important detail to analyze is to make sure the project scope is the same across all bids. Project scope is defined as the activities that are required in order to complete the project.
For instance, you want to get a new pool and patio installed and Contractor A is $10,000 dollars cheaper than Contractor B. While it would be tempting to go with Contractor A initially, once you analyze the bid you find out that they have excluded all demolition of the existing patio.
This means if you moved forward with Contractor A, you would now have to find someone to demo the existing patio, sign a separate contract, and you are now responsible for managing two contractors to make sure the project is completed correctly.
An example of contractors bidding off different scopes would be if the customer told Contractor A that they wanted a waterfall into the pool, while Contractor B was not told this. The scope of the project that the two contractors bid off of is now different and if the customer went with the lower bidder, they could potentially have been the high bidder when you add the waterfall back into the project price.
The point here is to look for exclusions specifically stated in the bid and to make sure that all contractors are bidding on the same details/scope for the project.
2- Quality of Work and Materials
So you have all of your bids and one contractor has stated that he is going to give you the cheapest materials in order to get the cost down. He may have even said that he has old materials from other jobs that he can use and will give you a discount for them. While this is a perfectly fine solution to reducing cost, it can cause headaches in the long run. Materials being used from other jobs or finding the cheapest materials for the job means that the quality of the product may not be as good.
But why do you care as a customer? Well, imagine that you need to get a drainage system installed and a contractor gets you the cheapest materials possible. If one of those materials fails due to poor quality or is improperly installed, do you really want the contractor to come back and rip up your yard again to fix it?
Which leads me to my next point…
Multiple times throughout my career I’ve seen that the customer hires the lowest bidder and the project gets completed with the lowest quality of materials. In this situation I find that corners get cut. During the job the customer is on top of the contractor to fix certain aspects of the work or even brings up safety concerns and they get blown off.
When contractors bid low, they need to get in and out of the project as fast as possible in order to make any money on it. So it is not surprising when I hear of contractors bidding very low, cutting corners, collecting the money, and the customer is never able to reach them again. The reason they do not want to get back with you is because they needed to be thrifty to make money and if they have to come back to fix anything, they would lose the rest of the money they had planned to make.
Unfortunately, this is the time where we normally get called out to fix the problem. It’s unfavorable because the customer is now in a place where they have to pay a second contractor to come out and do the job correctly.
Another factor to consider when selecting a contractor is Warranty Work. It is common industry status to provide at least 1 year warranty for projects. Warranty work includes materials or installation faulty workmanship. Warranty Work is not to be confused with Maintenance Work but should be defined before starting the project.
So why would warranty work have anything to do with being the low bidder on the project? Well, as we stated earlier, most often very low bidders are hard to contact for fixes. The second factor to think about is if these low bidders aren’t making any money on these jobs and are constantly being called out for faulty workmanship, what are the chances that they will even be in business in a year?
At Excavation Contractors LLC, we strive to give you the best quality project we can provide. Then, after completion of the project, we’ll be around to fix any warranty issues that come, up if any!