When you're arranging for construction to be done, be it commercial construction of an entire building or just a residential addition, you need to get estimates of how much the job might cost so that you have some idea of what to expect. You also want to get estimates so you can figure out if you have the budget for the desired work.
However, estimates are not the final price, and sometimes estimates can be way off, resulting in much higher charges that make you worry that you've been scammed. When you're arranging for construction, you want to find the most accurate estimate so that you're not shocked once the work is done.
Get More Than One Estimate
First, get more than one estimate. You've got to get a better idea of what the work might cost in your region, and the best way to do that is by getting multiple estimates and seeing where most of them fall. If one seems much cheaper or much more expensive for no apparent reason, you know that contractor might not be the one you want to choose.
Get a Quote Instead of an Estimate
You also need to get a quote, which is not the same as an estimate. A quote is closer to what you'll actually be charged; it's possible for the work to cost a little more than the quote, but not by much, and you should be alerted to any changes in the quoted price before the contractor proceeds with the work. Estimates are good for initial evaluation, but you really need to turn that estimate into a quote before considering contracts.
Get an Invoice
If you get a quote, or if you get an estimate and forget to get a quote before signing a contract, you risk receiving final bills that are much larger than is reasonable. If this happens, get an itemized invoice and ask the contractor about what happened. If the contractor never told you about changes being made or about prices that suddenly changed, you have good reason to be very curious about why your bill is so different. A slightly higher bill is one thing, but if you're looking at a bill for twice the estimate, for example, that's an excessively large change.
Get an Attorney to Negotiate
If the invoice doesn't satisfy your curiosity, contact a construction law firm and see if the attorney can negotiate to get a lower bill. At this point, you need someone on your side who knows what construction costs should be like and who can get the company to lower its price.
For more information, reach out to a local construction law attorney.