How Does Your Contractor Measure Up?

And down and across? Most jobs that contractors perform rely on measurements – anything to do with the floor, roof or walls for example. These measurements affect the contractor’s estimate of time and materials which ultimately determines how much you end up paying.

A few years ago we decided to replace most of our existing flooring with tile. We had the tiling company come out, measure, and provide an estimate. When we received the estimate we were suspicious of the amount of square feet just based on the size of our house. So we decided to take our own measurements. They turned out to be much less than the tiling company’s. We requested that they come out again and together we measured every room. The result was much closer to our measurements. We also questioned how they calculated their allowance for breakage and cuts. They reduced that estimate too. This of course saved us a lot of money.

And just within the past couple of months, we contacted a roofer to get an estimate to repair a section of roof. After conducting a thorough inspection, they sent us an estimate. They estimate the repair area at 675 square feet. The price was higher than what we expected.

A couple of years ago we had similar roof repair work done by a different company. Just by eye-balling, we could tell that the previous repair area is about the same size as the new one.  We looked up the previous repair contract and saw that repair area is 410 square feet. And the price was roughly 1/3 less than the new repair estimate.

Just like our tiling experience, we decided our next step was to calculate the repair area ourselves which wasn’t all that difficult.  The way we did it was to measure the length of one tile and then count the number of tiles along the base and the number of tiles for the altitude. Note that the repair area is actually in the shape of a parallelogram (not a rectangle) due to the roof’s slope. The formula to calculate the area of a parallelogram yields a smaller number than the formula for a rectangle. According to our calculation, the area measures 420 square feet which is 255 square feet (-37%) less than the contractor’s estimate! We gave the contractor a call and explained how we measured and our calculation. He agreed with us and subsequently provided an estimate that was $600 lower!

FYI, here are a few ways that you can hold contractors accountable for providing you with a fair estimate.

  • Get estimates from several contractors.
  • Vet contractors through social media sites (reference check). We still check out the Better Business Bureau. We are primarily searching for negative feedback. We always verify the contractor’s license and insurance.
  • Observe the contractor as they measure and mutually agree on the dimensions.
  • Ask how they then calculate the total amount including any allowance for breakage or special cuts.
  • If you have any concerns, re-measure yourself and contact the contractor if your numbers vary substantially.

I guess I’ve reached a point where I can’t trust people to do their job to the highest standards. And while it does require extra effort, depending on the size and cost of the job, the savings might be worth it! Plus you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are getting the fairest price that you are entitled to.

If you have any advice or contractor experiences, please feel free to share them in the Leave a Reply section below.

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Dot says:

    Hi Ted, great article and advice. We’Verizon had 2 recent experiences with contractor. The biggest potent ripoff was from Lennox AC via Costco for a garage mini split AC system. We researched size and cost of top of the line systems online and then got quotes. Costco Lennox quoted $8500 for a system that would have been too small for our cubic area, including $1800 for an electrical panel upgrade that was unnecessary (nice to have a husband who knows all about electrical and mechanical engineering). The next quote came in at $3200 with no need for electrical panel upgrade….just do a bit of circuit breaker re-arranging to make space which aligned with hubby’s assessment. This quote was about $500 more than the equipment cost….which we considered to be fair for the labor required.
    2nd experience was for water damage repair of bathroom after a water leak. We settled with the insurance however the contractor quoted more sq ft for texture and paint than what was needed. We did our own measurements and will be receiving a refund of $700.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *