Deciphering those vinyl siding contractor bids

If you're getting estimates from vinyl siding contractors, you know that costs can vary widely. You may have one bid for $11,500 and another for $16,000. Why is one estimate so much higher than another?

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Remodeling costs can vary by 20 to 30 percent or more. Here are some common reasons:

  • Labor costs: If a vinyl siding contractor has highly experienced workers who command a higher salary, that will affect your cost. While you don't want to overpay, be careful about cutting corners on labor. You often get what you pay for.
  • Size of the company - Bigger companies typically have more overhead, such as insurance and company vehicles that can raise their costs and prices. Don't avoid all the big companies, however, as they might be the ones with the best reputation and level of service.
  • Finances: If the company is losing money, the contractor might raise prices to offset losses. If the workers have to travel from 30 miles away, that might affect the costs. One company might be cutting costs by not getting permits and insurance. If one company's prices are significantly different than the others, ask questions.
  • Material costs: Some vinyl siding contractors get better pricing from a manufacturer due to their volume or length of time as a supplier. Or, you may have picked an expensive brand.
  • A busy contractor: A busy contractor may be overpricing the job because he doesn't need the work. Conversely, a contractor might be underbidding the work because he is not busy.
  • Apples and oranges: One contractor may be bidding on the lowest grade of siding while the other is pricing out the mid-level siding and new fascia boards.

Reviewing bids can be tricky business, but it pays to examine all the details. When in doubt, ask questions. A reputable contractor should be happy to explain the math.

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