$8,000! That was what one tradesperson estimated to retile the bathrooms in our extremely modest home. Just to give you an idea of the size that he was working with, it was less than 15 square metres. Understandably he did not receive my business.
My next port of call was to visit a tiling store to explain that I knew what constituted a reasonable price and wanted a tradesperson they would highly recommend who would give a fair quote. They gave me the name of Chris.
Chris was the epitome of professionalism. He was well mannered, clean, tidy, well organised and quoted me less than half of the previous quoted price.
First lesson- Get two quotes as a minimum and go by recommendations.
The second story involves having a repair person from Bosch visit our house for a call out. The water was not being drained. I carefully examined the washing machine and could hear water going in but it was failing to go out. I googled the model number and examined the faults that others had experienced. I ascertained that it was most likely a defect with the outlet house. Later that day my wife rang the service technician. He laughed at my diagnosis and said it wouldn’t be a hose. Upon inspecting the machine for a while he concluded that it was in fact the outlet hose and only charged the $150 call out fee, the hose was gratis.
Second lesson- Do your own research using that marvellous contraption called the internet!
The third story is back from when we built our home out in the country. We had a few outrageous quotes for getting over 150 metres of cabling laid, even up to $15,000. I picked up on a bit of the lingo along the way. By the fourth quote I could say with certainty the exact type of cabling needed and detail the specific measurements required. I mentioned the contacts I had formed with the power company, had an excavator arranged to dig the hole to the exact depth, laid all the necessary conduit in preparation and sealed it accordingly.
Consequently I paid a fraction of the price due to the time that I had saved the electrician in managing the third party tradespeople.
Third lesson- To save money it helps to be proactive. Do your part and get a discount.
The fourth example is not so much a story, but more my experience in negotiating a reasonable rate with tradespeople. I have found you can get a much better overall price when you clarify their hourly rate from the outset. Most people are poor estimators of time. Ask 10 people how many hours it would take to paint a given room. Estimations will vary widely.
When you negotiate an hourly rate you show that you expect accountability from the tradesperson. Most would generally estimate more as a safety buffer when they quote you, so an hourly rate is not only fair for everyone, but usually works in your favour.
Fourth lesson- Negotiate an hourly rate to get a cheaper outcome.