Real Estate

Homeowner 101: A bargain is not always a bargain

By From page HS5 | May 17, 2013

In a society where bargains are preferred, you may be hurting yourself in the long run.

We all love a good deal and have no problem comparison shopping when it comes to clothes, groceries, televisions and even appliances. It’s fine to do some comparison shopping but some need to understand that not everything is the same when you open it. A brand you find at the local box hardware store is not necessarily the same as when you go to a specialty store.

Say you’re looking at faucets and it’s the same brand, same color and looks the same on the outside, but it’s $100 less at the box store. There is a reason behind that and it maybe the inside that you can’t see. The higher price tag comes with possibly better guts. The inside of a faucet could be made with more plastics at the big box store and product at the specialty store has more metal type materials that are harder to damage. They may both have good warranties; but who wants to have the hassle of taking the faucet out, bringing it down to the store and having to reinstall it again. Sometimes the extra $50 or $100 is worth it because you know it will last.

This also goes for hiring a contractor. When you get a bid from a contractor (hopefully you will get at least three) check into all of them. There usually is a high, a low and a medium point. We always say there is a reason why one may be too low; that contractor just wants the job and will do a ton of change orders during the job after you have already signed with him. The highest might be too busy and wants to make sure they get compensated for their time. The middle might be just right.

The big catch is if they are licensed or not. Do not, under any circumstance, assume a contractor is licensed just because they have a name of a company on their shirt. The least expensive bid might be coming in so low because they are not licensed and don’t have the overhead of taxes, insurance, workers comp or anything the licensed contractors do.

Before buying a television or a car, we all do our homework and look into every detail. We even look at reviews on our big-ticket items. Same should go for your remodel. Look into every detail about the job and the contractor. Go to the Contractors State License Board and see if their license is current. Make sure everything you went over is on the contract because you don’t want any hidden costs once you’re locked into a contract.

Also check up on them, call other homeowners and see how they were to work with; it’s the “review” part. There are always ways of cutting costs and your licensed contractor can help — just ask. But try not to skimp on who you hire. You don’t want to have to hire another contractor to come in and fix the problems of the one you no longer have working for you. Get it done right the first time is the motto I live by.

Jeff Nilluka is a licensed contractor, No. 875781, and the owner of Cambrian Construction in the El Dorado County. He and his wife Jenelle can be reached by their website at or 916-458-1771.



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