Save Time, Money, and Hassle by Bundling Your Home Repairs
My family spent most of this year with work crews roaming around our house. The month of March began with the construction of a family room and August concluded with a repaired and refurbished basement. In between, we had a number of smaller repair jobs taken care of. It was stressful and expensive, but we're certain we saved hundreds of dollars in the long run by getting multiple projects done at once. (See also: Home Maintenance to Do ASAP)
We love our contractor, Steve. He and his cronies have built or repaired things all around our house for years, and we almost always find that he'll discount the price of his work if we ask him to do several jobs during each visit. I suppose it's possible that Steve is just a nice guy and appreciates the business we give him. But my sense is that combining jobs also allows him to buy more materials at a lower bulk price and lets him to coordinate jobs in an efficient way, thus saving costs in the long run.
Never Do One Job at a Time
Everyone has a list of things they need done around the house, but aren't sure where to begin. I would suggest hiring a contractor to handle the biggest job, but also asking if he or she will do some smaller jobs while they're there. Looking to build a backyard deck? Ask about power washing your siding, too. Getting new windows installed? See if crews will replace the gutters while they are on site. (See also: Top DIY Jobs Homeowners Should Avoid)
Our contractor is usually so pleased to be working on the big and expensive job that he'll consider doing the small jobs for little or no charge. When he built our family room, for instance, he installed motion-detector lights and extra electrical outlets for free. When he refurbished our basement, he patched up a large piece of damaged drywall and put in new light bulbs, and that work never showed up in the final invoice.
Combining jobs also allows contractors to keep working if there is bad weather. A rainy day might prevent workers from installing a roof, but they can always come inside and fix your closet door.
Everything in Your House Has a Lifespan
A typical roof will last about 20 to 25 years before it starts to wear out. Carpeting can go about seven years before it starts to get shabby. If you know when something was first installed, you can effectively plan when it might need to be replaced, and possibly combine the project with other jobs on your list. (See also: Costly Things New Homeowners Don't Prepare For)
When our basement recently flooded, it required us to get new downstairs carpeting. But we also knew the carpet on the upper story was getting old, so we went ahead and asked Steve to arrange for that to be replaced as well. By combining the jobs into a single project, we saved time and some money on a square-foot basis. Steve also agreed to paint our large basement stairwell at a 25% discount while he was there and replaced some light bulbs for free.
Where Do You Find A Good Contractor?
Hiring a contractor can feel like a leap of faith, but there are easy ways you can check on their quality of work and what they charge. We found our contractor through the website of the Better Business Bureau (look for a business with no complaints). Angie's List is a good way to get customer reviews, but it costs $3.50 per month or $8.99 per year. Community news sites and message boards may also be a great place to look.
Perhaps the best resource may be your friends and neighbors. Look on your street for contractors at work and ask the homeowner their opinion, or even ask to see the finished work. Generally speaking, once people find a contractor they like, they are not shy about touting their services.
Find a Contractor Who Can Do It All (Or Knows Someone Who Can)
It's tempting to simply call a plumber when you have a leaky faucet or to just call an electrician when you have a faulty switch. But you will find it easier to combine jobs by instead working directly with a residential contractor with his or her own network of tradesmen.
Our contractor does a lot of building construction himself but has relationships with folks ranging from roofers to carpet installers to HVAC experts and even tree removal specialists. He stands behind the quality and speed of their work and ensures we get a fair price. We pay him directly, and he's the only person we ever have to call. This makes it easy for us to bundle jobs together, because he'll coordinate to make sure everyone's working at the same time.
Where Else Can You "Bundle" Services?
Home contractors aren't the only ones who will offer discounts if you ask for more than one job or service. Auto mechanics may also do this. Telecom companies are experts at bundling phone, internet, and television services for less than if you paid separately (just read the fine print). Caterers might offer a discount if you able to book more than one job at a time. Day care centers offer "multi-child" discounts, and you may be able to get similar breaks on babysitting services. It never hurts to ask. And even if you don't get a break on price, combining jobs will at least save time and spare you some hassle. (See also: Save Money By Bundling)
Have you bundled services for a discount with a home repair contractor — or any other contractor? How much did you save?