I received three quotes for performing a foundation repair in my house and they vary from $400 to $10000. Generally speaking, why do contractor quotations vary so much and should I select the lowest bidder to do the repair?

Getting quotes from contractors can be very frustrating. Prices can vary significantly, as can the suggested repair materials, means, and methods. It is always important to understand exactly what is included in the price, so that the quotes can be properly compared. Once all of the pertinent information is obtained from the different contractors, you should have enough information to feel confident that you are comparing “apples to apples,” when looking at the different quotes.

It is important to determine how the repair or installation will be performed.

Will invasive methods be utilized to complete the work, or will damage to drywall and other finishing materials be minimal? For example, will the foundation crack be repaired from the exterior, requiring the earth around the foundation to be dug up, or can it be sealed from the interior without damaging finishing materials?

It is also important to note whether the contractor has taken into consideration any hidden problems that may be revealed, once the work begins. In many cases, the total extent of work to be completed cannot be fully understood, until more intrusive investigation is performed. For example, water-damaged materials behind basement paneling or drywall may require removal and replacement as part of a foundation crack repair; or old wiring behind a wall that is discovered after the plaster or drywall is removed may need to be upgraded or replaced, increasing the cost of the project.

When getting a quote, make sure that everything included is in writing.

Including the means and methods to complete the work, type of equipment, or repair and/or the materials to be used, as well as the life expectancy of the repair or equipment. The initial savings from a cheaper repair or product may seem appealing at first, however, equipment or a repair of inferior quality may cost more in the long run, if additional repairs are necessary.

Before entering into any agreement, make sure the contractor is qualified and experienced in performing the requested tasks.

In some provinces, contractors are required to be licensed to carry out certain types of work; check with the local or provincial trade authorities for their requirements, and ask to see a copy of the contractor’s license. The contractor and/or the company should also be registered with the provincial Workers’ Compensation Board or similar organization. If an injury or damage occurs during completion of work activities on a homeowner’s property, the homeowner could be held liable, and often homeowner’s insurance does not cover this type of accident.

There should also be a guarantee or warranty associated with any new equipment, workmanship, and some types of materials.

Be sure, however, that the installation will be completed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions/specifications; the warranties on some types of equipment or materials are voided if installed incorrectly or by someone who is not certified/trained to complete the installation. In addition, a warranty is only as good as the company issuing it. For example, if a contractor is providing a lifetime warranty against water infiltration through a basement wall after a foundation crack has been sealed, make sure that the contractor is experienced and proven. Check references who have had warranty work performed and make sure that you are confident that the company will be around in the future.

Visit the home inspection experts at AmeriSpec of Canada for more tips and valuable home improvement information.

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