What Is the Cost of Cheap?

The Importance of Knowing What You’re Getting, Before You Write the Check


Too often people decide to move forward with a construction project without asking the right questions. It is important to get the answers before you start. What is the purpose or reason for the project? Who is going to do the work? What is it going to cost? The answers to these questions will have significant impact to your satisfaction (or lack thereof).

The number of horror stories that I have heard from customers about previous construction experiences is unacceptable. A construction project is a big investment and should be a fun, exciting and dream fulfilling incident.

Just recently I served as a professional witness in a small claims trial between a home owner and a contractor. Both sides had valid arguments, but the whole problem could have been avoided with better communication. The project was started without any written agreement. It was destined for problems from the very beginning. The contractor didn’t get paid for some of the time they had spent working. The home owner had to hire someone else repair some work that had been poorly done. They both had to pay court costs and neither won their case. When the trial was over it cost both parties more money, more time and more heartache.

Cost is so much more than just dollars. It is also time, contentment, enjoyment, etc. Remember…ask the questions before rather than dealing with problems after.


  • How much is it going to cost? – It amazes me how often projects start without this question being answered. I understand that it requires time, experience, and commitment from a contractor to prepare this ahead of time. Just like in the situation above, starting a project with no agreement, no clarity of what the project consists of, just a verbal hourly rate, leaves too many unanswered questions.
  • What is the purpose of this project? – Why am I considering it? What is the reason or reasons I want to do it? It may be the need for extra space for a growing family. It might be to fix some problems or issues; leaking roof, sagging floor, unsafe wiring, lack of insulation. Maybe it’s just because you would enjoy a nice new kitchen, a man cave, a walk-in closet, an attached garage or a nice new deck. The list of reasons can go on and on. The important thing is to get clear on the reason(s) before you start.
  • What do I want in a contractor? – This is an answer that will be as different as the people asking questions. Your preferences might be quality, personality, integrity, price, etc. The important thing is for you to decide what is right for you before starting the project not after.

“Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish.”

Luke 14:28-29, (MSG translation).

There are many factors to consider and questions to answer when doing a construction project. If you do it before, it will make the whole experience better.

What questions do you have that need asked before you start your project?


Here are a couple of other posts that you might find helpful

Six Ways To Find Your Right Builder

To Hire or Not to Hire, That Is the Question?

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