July 5, 2009

How a few hours effort may have saved us over $2,000

Recently I wrote an update about our energy savings project. My wife and I are planning to have our home air sealing, duct sealing and insulation improved. My wife has actually done most of the work for the project so far dealing with the auditors and getting estimates. From the first article I explained how we had 3 different estimates : two of which were about $6,000 and the third was over $8,000. We quickly crossed the 3rd estimate off our list since it was over $2,000 more than the other two and didn't have any visible benefit.

But what if the most expensive estimate was the first person we talked to and we didn't bother to get more estimates? If we had called the expensive contractor first and then not bothered to call around to get other quotes we might have went ahead and paid them over $8,000 to do the work when we could have easily found other contractors who would do it for $6,000. It did take my wife a few hours to call around and talk to people on the phone then have them come over to the house and do the estimate. If we hadn't taken that extra time it could have cost us $2,000! Yikes. I'm sure glad we shopped around and didn't call the most expensive contractor first.

For another example of this kind of thing check out How My Parents Saved $14,000 on Home Repairs from JD at Get Rich Slowly. In the middle of that article they say they got estimates of $10,000, $7,500 and $8,000 for work to fix a deck and the $10,000 estimate was the first. If they hadn't shopped around then they would have paid $2,500 more.

I hope most people don't do major work like this that costs several thousand dollars without even getting estimates. But I'm sure that it happens. Its unfortunate that some people would pay so much more simply because they don't shop around a little. Even if the work isn't as expensive a relatively small job is worth shopping around for too. A couple hours of your time is probably worth saving a hundred bucks or more.

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