Are all Renovation Estimates created equal?

150 150 Cornerstone Flooring & Renovations

Painted Cabinets with new countertop and backsplash

So I wanted to share some thoughts about renovation estimates today.  This general term “renovation estimate” can encompass anything that you might want done in your house.  From new paint to completely remodeling your entire house inside and out.  As a general contractor we receive estimates from subcontractors as well as give estimates to our customers.  So, are all renovation estimates created equal?  NOPE!  There are a large variety of differences that can be hiding in something as simple as an estimate to paint a single bedroom.  Whether the ceiling is included, whether the trim is included, whether the closet is getting painted, what brand of paint is being used, how many coats of paint have been included…etc.  So for something as complex as a large renovation estimate the variety in items included is almost endless.  Here are a few hints to help you with getting the most for your money.

1) Determine what is most important to you for your renovation.

We all want everything for nothing, but that is not realistic and most times you get what you pay for.  So is quality of work and product more important than getting everything on the list done?  Or would you like to have lower quality product and workmanship so you can get everything on the list done?  I would also like to make this clear to everyone…the most expensive estimate does not always ensure the highest quality product or workmanship.  But for starters it’s important for you to determine what your priorities are for your project and communicate these to your contractors.  If you aren’t quite sure, a good contractor or designer can offer advice on which options best fit your priorities & budget as well as the best order in which to complete your wish list.

2) Define a detailed scope of work for your renovation.

It would be nice if we could all just hand the keys to Chip & Jo, leave for a month and come back to a completed renovation.  But in reality, not many of us would be comfortable letting someone else make all the decisions without having a say.  You do not need to have a step by step list of what you need completed, but you should have a general list of deliverables that you want done.  For example, if you want new kitchen cabinets, do you want stained wood, painted, veneer cabinets?  Also with kitchen cabinets, are you keeping same layout and footprint?  Are you adding any banks of drawers?  Do you want to reconfigure the kitchen layout?  There are many more questions on how to price kitchen cabinets as one contractor may just price exactly same layout and footprint,  while another may have added 2 banks of drawers because it makes the kitchen more functional.  Not exactly an apples to apples comparison.  Be as detailed as possible in communicating with your contractors to eliminate discrepancies in pricing and surprises down the road about what you are actually getting.

Kitchen before & After

3) Get Estimates from reputable contractors.

Okay, so how do you determine if a contractor is “reputable”?  There are many articles and websites that you can find this information from.  Brian Baeumler’s website, Baeumler Approved takes you to a homeowner checklist.  Cornerstone Flooring & Renovations a Baeumler Approved Contractor and we strive to make sure that your experience remains positive and low stress while creating outstanding results.  Recognize Mike Holmes?  His website Holmes Approved Homes also has a lot of information on finding the right contractor.  What you will find on almost any site is that you should talk to references, people that have had the contractor complete a similar project for them.  This way you can get first hand knowledge of what went well, what went wrong and what could use a little tweak.  Check out a few of our past project photos here!

4) Review renovation estimates and clarify questions.

So you have determined the most important factors in your renovation wish list.  You also have chosen reputable contractors and worked with them to define a clear scope for this project.  Great job! So now the lowest price wins right?  Or maybe it’s the middle price just to be safe?  If only life were as easy as applying one simple rule!  Now you pay even more attention to the details.  Review all the estimates and ensure that they all clearly lay out the scope of the job that you have discussed so far.  Look for things that are included and not included in each estimate.  It’s best not to assume that someone is trying to over-charge you with a slightly higher estimate.  They may be recommending a higher value or more functional upgrade than a competitor who is only focused on showing you the lowest possible price.  Some contractors strategically leave certain items out of an estimate that weren’t clearly discussed so that they can offer an initial estimate that has a more competitive looking bottom line.  In the end you will still get what you pay for and pay for what you get.  Ensure that you are working with someone who you feel deserves your time & trust, and that you are crystal clear on what you are getting from each estimate.  Ask questions if you are not sure!  Keep in mind that all things may not be as comparable as they appear at first glance, and a good contractor will be happy to make time to have this conversation with you and explain why they are making those recommendations for your project.  Items can often be altered or removed from an initial estimate to accommodate budget considerations.


I hope that this post helps you in any future renovation projects.  As I stated above, there are endless amounts of material on the internet about how to select a contractor.  We hope that you will keep us in mind for your next renovation project.  Please stop by our showroom located at #15, 4804-42ave in Innisfail, AB.  We can help you from start to finish on any renovation project that you might have.  If needed, we can complete 3D drawings of the remodel and help you select the appropriate material for your space as well as your budget from our broad selection of material.

Reputable contractors should be working with you and for you…not trying to gain your business by giving you an artificially low price on tour estimate.  What we have learned is that there is always someone who will say that they can give you the same thing for a lower price… But the reality is that there is a likely a significant difference in what you are getting, and you typically won’t know what the difference is until it’s too late.

We always offer free Renovation Estimates for all projects and strive to make sure the process is as smooth as possible.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next week’s post.