What does a free estimate mean? | Indianapolis home remodeling advice


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Everyone loves free, right? Let’s face it, the term “free” automatically gets our attention.  It’s used in advertising everywhere. From free fries with a burger, to buy-one-get-one free offers, everyone likes to think they are getting “something” for nothing.  Free is great. I like free, you like free. Free is good. It means “Yes, i got SOMETHING”!

We feel good when we get something. As long as it puts us ahead of whatever we gave to get the “free something” to begin with.  Free offers work for many of our daily consumables.  Shampoo, soap, coffee and soda and even the “35% more macaroni” we just consumed.  For consumables and other commodity-type goods, FREE is a great marketing tool. When you have a choice between two brands of the same type of “thing”, FREE is a great way for one to stand apart from the others.

So when does it not make sense to trust “free”?  That’s a tough one. Perhaps we are so used to “free” that it’s hard to imagine someone offering goods or services without a “we can help you for free” type of offer.  Think hard.  It may sound silly, but would you trust specialized service providers enticing you with free?  How about “buy 1 eye, get 1 eye free” Lasik surgery? Or, buy “2-1/2 quart oil change, receive the other 2-1/2 quarts free” offer?  Perhaps the “Free upper mouth teeth cleaning with every bottom mouth cleaning purchase”? Yeah, the examples are ridiculous. But they are a reminder:  Why invest in only half the amount of success?  Wouldn’t you rather have both eyes functioning, or ALL your oil changed?  And if you’re only getting one half of your mouth cleaned, forget it.

Free is good, but only when it’s relevant to your success in whatever you’re acquiring.  Free is good when distinguishing between two shampooos, both of which will clean your hair. Or between two burgers both of which would fill you up.  FREE works great as a hook for services or goods where you have to pick two very similar products. Free seldom works to distinguish between overall value, customer service, experience and skill.

As a professional remodel company in Indianapolis, one of the biggest questions we answer is, “do you give free estimates?”  It’s a valid question.  Most home remodeling contractors give free estimates, and so do we depending on the situation.  In relation to home remodeling, there are a few projects that lend themselves to free estimates.  Improvements such as new siding, new windows, new roofing and to some extent kitchen cabinet replacement make the most sense when offering our clients a “free estimate”. However, not all home improvement and major remodeling projects are conducive to the word “free.”

Additions to your home, major modifications to your kitchen and bathrooms, and other larger-scale remodel projects are not good candidates for free estimates. Why? It’s simple. These projects are complex; they require a great deal of thought, planning, budgeting and a sizeable investment.  Getting a quote from a reputable local design and remodel firm may in fact be free; however, the design required to obtain an accurate, firm estimate should not be.

For many remodel projects, a detailed, to-scale plan helps set the scope of a project, the parameters in which to work, as well as depict how a homeowner should expect a project to look when it is completed.  This attention to detail, the fact gathering and all else that is required to give a guaranteed price to complete the work as specified does not come without cost.  Giving a free estimate without agreed upon details doesn’t mean much when it comes to extensive home modifications.

“Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we can indeed put a family addition to your home. In fact, we will put it off the back of your home, just like you asked. It will cost about “x amount of dollars”.  What, you want to know what it will look like and how it will tie-into and blend into the your home? Well, we don’t really know. BUT, we do know we can do it and it should be about this much money. But, will you be able to match the style of our home so it doesn’t look added on and appears as though it was always here?”   Ummm.

Sure, you can trust your contractor to make it happen.  There are always ways to join the roof of your new addition with your existing house, but you will have to wait and see how it turns out. Good luck and happy gambling.  Consider yourself lucky if you at least get a nice pencil sketch on a McDonald’s napkin to portray how your investment of your home will look.  The reality is if you trust a “free estimate” to give you something you like that suits your tastes, your needs and the style of your home, you’re likely to be disappointed.

When it comes to custom, nothing is the same. Nothing is equal to another. No two contractors will come up with the same solution. It’s your job to do your homework and put your prospective remodel contractor to work for you.  But don’t expect it to be free!

Check back soon for the the follow-up on FREE REMODEL DESIGN…coming soon.

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