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Home Improvements Leaving a Big Hole in Your Pocket?

Check Out These 5 Tips for Winning Negotiations with Your Contractor

Lots of home buyers watch programs like HGTV's Fixer Upper and Flip or Flop. They think about their own potential fixer upper and hope they can flip not flop, or just live really comfortably in their new home! So one of the top questions buyers ask me at my open houses is, "what will it cost to add [a new bath | a bigger kitchen | an extra bedroom | a finished basement].

Alternatively, sellers want to make a few updates so their homes will stand out in the crowd and sell quickly, but they don't want to spend a lot of money on projects they won't enjoy themselves.

Big home improvement projects can leave a big hole in your pocket, but you can lower your costs by negotiating with the contract price and terms. If you are looking for ways to cut the price of your contract work, take a look at these five tips for winning negotiations with your contractors.


Always make sure to verify contractors' credentials and experience before you hire them. (Remind me to tell you how I got caught in a situation with an unscrupulous contractor in my first real estate purchase!) If you are comfortable working with a contractor with less experience and less time in the trade, you may be able to secure a much lower price. Just understand there may be a quality and time tradeoff. You can also research the costs of the materials needed for the project for a bargaining chip. A material cost list will help you decide whether or not the contractor is charging higher prices for the supply portion of the project.

Shop Around

It's hard to tell whether you are getting a great deal on your home improvement project without having anything to compare the price to. For a good idea, get at least three comparable bids or estimates for the project. Contractors may be willing to lower their cost or negotiate particular terms in the contract if they are competing for the work. Make sure to provide the contractor with as many project details as you can and read each estimate thoroughly.

Buy Your Own Supplies

Many contractors offer to buy the supplies needed for the project and implement them into the cost in the estimate or bill you for them later. Contractors often buy supplies from the same supplier, meaning they may not be getting them at the best price. Save yourself money by offering to buy the supplies yourself to make sure you are getting the best deals.


The cost of your home project will depend somewhat on the season you want the work done. You might be able to save money by seeking estimates during a slow construction season and contractors will be more willing to negotiate the costs. If you live in colder climes and you want to add a room to your home, consider calling contractors for an estimate in the winter. The work may not be able to start until warmer weather, but you may be able to snag a lower cost since the business is currently slow for the contractor.

Approach the Contractor as an Ally

If you approach the pricing as if the contractor is against you, this will establish a negative relationship. Treat contractors as allies and they will work with you to find the price that works with your budget. Show them respect and ask for changes that may help you save money on the projects. For example, you may be able to find less expensive countertops or a different type of flooring for a better cost.

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