Contractor Pricing – Look For Value

Hardscape · Written by Roger

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Pricing Is Not Always A Measure Of Quality

As a project manager contractor pricing is always a concern. I look for products, services and contractors that offer good value. I am a believer in the adage “you get what you pay for,” but to assume a high price yields the best is not always true.

There is contractor pricing going on out there based simply on current rates (usually those on the higher end). A contractor will reason “Well hell, Acme Landscape is getting $28/sf, I’ll charge the same”.

There’s also pricing based on “what the market will bear,” which is tied to supply and demand. When the economy is good demand is usually high. This market supports mediocre work at high prices.

You really need to examine what you’re getting for your dollar and, in fact, if the price is justified.

When A Higher Price Is Justified

We hear the phrase “compare apples to apples” all the time. I use it a lot because part of my responsibility is helping clients through contractor pricing and the budgeting process.

Fairness is the end goal. The homeowner should get what they pay for, and the contractor should make a reasonable profit.

These pictures of stone veneer being installed on a cabana building illustrate the workmanship and level of detail that justify this stone mason’s pricing.

Every stone on the building has been “hand tooled,” which gives a consistent look throughout. Even the grain of the stone is considered in terms of how each is set. Also, notice the uniformity of the joints.

So what constitutes higher pricing?

  • Type and quality of materials. This should also include the time and effort in selecting the particular material. For example, not only is the quality of plant material a major factor, but also searching and selecting the “best in the bunch”.
  • Workmanship. We all know this is major. Workmanship is not necessarily tied to experience. I know tradespeople with 20 years experience I wouldn’t let within a mile of my house.
  • Dependability. Do what they say they’re going to do.
  • Accessibility. Can be reached easily when necessary.
  • Trustworthiness

I think we’d all agree we don’t mind spending the money as long as we’re getting good value.

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