Choose your own adventure- Basement edition, part 3

This is part 3 of a story examining the process of choosing a contractor. In part 1, we described the process David and Sarah went through to get estimates for their basement project. Part 2 discussed the results of David and Sarah choosing the cheaper contractor who included design for free. Below we’ll look at the results of the other option.

David and Sarah decide that while Jim seemed like a nice guy and his price was preferable, they really want to know what their project will look like before getting started. They also appreciate how thorough the other contractor (we’ll call him James) was when asking questions about their project. They tell James they want to work with him and understand that the design portion of the project will cost $3,500. That being said, they don’t want to spend more than $75,000 all together. James tells them he’s thrilled to work with them and that he’ll keep their budget in mind when designing the project.

David and Sarah meet with James to start the design process. They talk about the design agreement and understand exactly what James will provide, including a floor plan, elevations of cabinets, 3D renderings of the finished basement, paint color options and other finish material recommendations. They pay for the design agreement and look at a few catalogues and websites for inspiration while James spends 45 minutes taking measurements of their basement. Afterward, Sarah shows James some examples of what they like from the websites, including an example of built-in bookshelves. The contractor offers several additional suggestions and Sarah provides feedback. David talks about what they want to use each space for.

A week later James meets with them again to show them the rough draft of the design. The drawings are computer-generated and to scale, and there are two different designs. One is what they discussed, the other is what James thinks will work best for their space requirements. It’s clear from the presentation that their original design doesn’t provide enough space and the suggested design does, so they approve James’s design instead. They meet again a week later to discuss the changes they wanted and look at more product samples. Sarah’s sister attends the meeting and they make choices for everything but paint colors. A week later James provides a fixed-price proposal for their project at a cost of $70,260. They move ahead with the contract and the finished basement project is scheduled to start 4 weeks later.

James’s company takes care of obtaining permits, ordering and delivering materials, and everything else. They protect floors and use an air filtration system during the project. James updates David and Sarah every other day throughout the project. The only changes made are due to the discovery of a mis-wired circuit from the original construction of the house which is easily dealt with for $240. After drywall is finished James provides several large paint color samples so the choice is easy for Sarah. The project keeps going smoothly and is completed in 9.5 weeks, well within the 9-11 week range James provided. Best of all, everything looks stunning! David remarks about how easy the process was while providing James the final payment for the project and offers to be a reference for James’s company.

Several weeks go by, and James calls David and Sarah to thank them again for working with him and to check on the project. Sarah tells him they’re very happy and everything is working exactly the way they expect. Over the years as the family grows up, David and Sarah call James for other work on their home and are always happy with the results.

The fourth and final part of this series comes next!

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