Canadian Contractor


Fly-by-night contractors who work for half what you do

In this post, Al Barnes lists all the aspects of a quality $40,000 basement renovation. Unfortunately, many contractors will bid $20,000 - and then make a total hash of it.

A recent comment about Mike Holmes…

One of the things that bothers me about Mike is that he never chastises homeowners for trying to do projects for less money because that’s all they have.

As a contractor, I have given hundreds of estimates where I was not awarded the job because the client said it was too much. Then I would find out that they had it done by someone else for half my price – and were not satisfied with the workmanship or finish.

I have done many basements. The average 800-1,000 sq.-ft, unfinished basement usually costs in the area of $40,000. This includes: fully finished spaces (with framing, insulation and vapor barrier), finished ceiling (drywall or suspended), multiple separations, hallways, doors and hardware, bathroom rough-in (only), full-code electrical with dedicated circuits and average lighting fixtures, a sub-floor and finished floor (be it wood, laminate and/or carpeting), and multiple paint colors with contrasting trim. This is all done correctly with all new materials.

For every contractor like myself who wouldn’t do this project for $20,000, there are ten who would. And those are the ones who give the industry a bad name.

That said, when three or four contractors estimate the job at around $40,000 and the potential customer says they want it done for $20,000 (“ it’s all we have and we want it done right away”), who is really at fault when the job is botched and they need to call Holmsie in to re-do it for them?

As much as I believe it should be done right, is the onus completely on the contractors who will do it for $20,000 because that’s all the client is willing to pay? Personally, I always tell clients like this to wait until they have saved enough to do it right. 

Al Barnes


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