This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
Most people have an innate dislike of negotiation. It can be stressful and intimidating, but it becomes much easier if you understand a few simple principles. Read on to discover six strategies to help you negotiate effectively with your contractor during your home improvement or interior design project.
- Be polite yet firm.
During negotiation, politeness is key, but being polite doesn’t equate to being a pushover. Be sure to speak confidently and keep your tone neutral rather than getting too aggressive or being too passive. Anytime you’re negotiating, you want the other person to respect your authority. However, this definitely doesn’t mean you should be overbearing or resort to bullying. (Learn more about bullying here.) While this may seem like the best way to force the contractor to lower their price, it can backfire. It’s best to try for a respectful and collaborative approach to negotiation.
- Communicate your budget clearly.
It can be awkward to discuss finances in many situations, but it’s normal and expected to talk about the money when you’re negotiating with a contractor. Let’s say your budget is between $1500 and $3000. When you’re talking about your budget for the project, one tip is to give the contractor a lower figure than you can actually afford, like $1000 for this example. Avoid telling them the upper bracket of your price range (the $3000 we mentioned earlier), or it’s pretty much guaranteed that the project will cost somewhere around that number. Meanwhile, offering up a figure less than your lower bracket ensures you’ll have some wiggle room for any unexpected costs that arise.
- Let them know you’re getting multiple bids.
We highly recommend reaching out to multiple contractors to get bids for your project, especially if you plan to spend thousands of dollars. This way, you’ll have a good idea of the average pricing for the project, and you’ll also increase your leverage when you tell the contractors that you’re getting multiple bids. When the contractors are aware that they have competition for the job, it pushes them to offer you their best price. Of course, it’s not always best to go with the contractor with the lowest bid, but building this sense of competition will generally drive down everyone’s prices.
- Ask about changes you can make to bring down the price.
You might be tempted to simply ask your contractor whether they’re willing to lower their price in order to win your business. Don’t do this! Instead, seek their advice regarding ways to decrease the cost of your plans. For example, if your contractor bids $20,000, but you only want to spend $15,000, ask what your contractor recommends as far as changes that will bring the cost down. They will likely have creative solutions that you wouldn’t have thought of, and this also shows your contractor that you respect them and value their opinion and expertise.
- Offer to purchase materials and supplies to lower costs.
Ask your contractor whether you can pay for supplies, materials, and subcontractors directly. You’ll notice that most contractors typically purchase the necessary supplies and bill you for them later, and the pricing can be pretty high. As long as you buy the correct quantity of materials, this strategy can help you cut costs.
- Get all of the details in writing.
Whenever you’re negotiating, it’s crucial to get all of the details in writing. Legally, it’s nearly impossible to hold someone to their word unless it’s expressed on paper. Get itemized quotes for expenses, ask your contractor to write down his answers to any questions about contract details, and get the project end date in writing as well. Basically, anything important must be written down and recorded.
A Final Word
We wish you the best of luck in negotiating pricing with contractors and hope our tips were helpful! Just like anything else, negotiation gets easier the more you do it. Try to look at negotiation as a team effort or partnership rather than you against the contractor, and you’ll likely get better results.