Getting multiple bids is a smart part of selecting a vendor to complete a foundation repair bid for your home or business. We do have some suggestions on how to evaluate the bids and some questions you should consider asking.
Here are some things we suggest:
- Look beyond the “bottom line” – While it can be a bit complicated, it is important that you look deeper than just the bottom line number. Different companies do different things and there is often much more to consider than just who has the lowest price at the bottom of the bid.
- Get into the line items – while different foundation companies may have different terminology, if looking at multiple bids, you should start to see some similar services. For instance, piers and the pier count. Or discharge drainage in linear feet. Or crack repair in linear feet, etc. Typically the total price will be provided, and the number of units. Divide the total price by the units to get the cost per unit. Cost per unit can be a very telling metric when you look at the bid.
- Ask why – as you look at the line items, you may find that one provider has 40 linear feet of waterproofing and another has 120. (Note: those particular approximate numbers are typically applying waterproofing to one wall (40) versus around the whole basement perimeter (120). This is a great item to discuss with the vendor. “You suggested 120 feet, while another company only proposed 40. What are your thoughts here?”
- Less is Not Always More – Some companies sell “systems” and only provide the price breakdown at the bottom line. Imagine if you went to a restaurant and you were checking your bill, and it only provided the order total and not the cost of each meal. While this is kind of nice in that it is simple to read, it also makes it very difficult to understand what you are being asked to buy and what those things really cost you. If the bid is vague, it might tell you something about how the company is going to treat you after you sign the contract.
- Warranties – Companies offer different warranties and this is something to look into with the system. There are real costs to offering strong warranties and you should assess any differences in warranties offered and have a feel for what you are paying for.
- Terms – Payment terms can have an impact on foundation repair and basement waterproofing projects. In particular, you want to check to see how much upfront payment is required. In addition to the impact on you as the customer, what do the terms tell you about the company you are about to hire.
- Get some help – These bids are not easy to read and it is not unreasonable for you to reach out to the vendors to get questions answered. On projects which meet a certain minimum, Foundation 1 will even do a bid comparison analysis for you. Get with your evaluator to learn more about this process.
- Ask for revisions in approach if you have a preference – Let’s say you want to see an estimate with either adding or removing certain elements in the bid. There are some circumstances where we may not be willing to do a certain job without doing other things. But in many situations, we can be flexible with the repair plan. There are many different ways to approach foundation repair. If you like certain elements from one company and others from a different company, you should feel like you can raise this issue with the vendor and get their thoughts. From Foundation 1’s perspective, we want to have a dialogue with you and be a strong help for you in making your decision.
- Final Questions – Here are a few questions you might ask the vendor:
- How long have you been in business?
- What types of insurance do you carry?
- Are you a licensed contractor?
- Do you pull permits?
- How do I make a claim on the warranty?
- How many online reviews do you have?
- How many employees / crews do you have?
- Are your laborers employees or 1099s?
- How much experience do your foreman have?
- What kind of support can I expect from the sales / office staff?
- Are you ranked with the Better Business Bureau?
Selecting a foundation repair contractor can be an involved task. But doing the work leads to selecting a strong contractor, paying the right price, and having a long term solution for your home and basement for years to come.
I love that question of asking the contractors and bidders ‘why.’ Knowing their thinking can tell you a lot about their way of doing a job. And, that can tell you how well you could work with them.