Remodeling, What Am I Paying For?


Remodeling, What Am I Paying For?

I recently had the opportunity to provide a proposal for a front entry door replacement.  After my initial visit to the customer’s home, I arranged for the customer to go to my door supplier.  As is customary, my customer was made aware of the price of the door by my door supplier.  When my customer later received my full proposal to remove and replace her front entry door, her comment was: “I didn’t think that the labor would be so much!”.  This is a scenario that I have been in countless times.  From this customer’s perspective, all that she would be paying for was the cost of the door and the price of workmen to install it, or, “the labor”. 

I think this is a natural thought, but there is more to it than just material and labor.  The easiest way for me to illustrate this is compare it to buying your bread at the local grocery store.  There is a lot more than just the cost of the flour, eggs, yeast, water, salt and the labor of the baker.  The following is a list of costs that are included in the loaf of bread that we may not often think about:

  • Cost of packaging.
  • Designers time to create the logo of the bread manufacturer. 
  • Cost of any advertising they may have done to make you aware of their bread. 
  • Salary of the person that worked from the bread company to negotiate and get their bread in your store.
  • Cost of bread that expired or was either damaged or stolen from the store. 
  • Cost of the gas and the driver to transport the bread to the store. 
  • Cost to keep the lights on at the grocer, their insurance and salaries of the grocery clerks, etc. 


The list could go on and on, but we often don’t think about those things.  This is very similar in the remodeling business.  We also have insurance, advertising, and the salaries of the behind the scenes individuals that are all part of the costs to get the final work done.    

Depending on the type, size/scope, complexity and jurisdiction of the project being considered, there may be greater or less “behind the scenes” costs that are important or necessary.  Although some contractors and remodeling consumers may believe that additional overhead and behind the scenes work are “just more costly”, my 31 years of professional remodeling experience has taught me otherwise. In fact, my experience has taught me just the opposite.  To provide a predictable, informed and enjoyable experience, the process rich program should also lead to a successfully completed remodel.  This is all part of getting a quality remodeling experience. 

Ironically, some of the most dissatisfied customers are the very ones who selected the lowest bid contractor with virtually no overhead and no process with which to ensure success.  It is likely that the reason for the low bid was that costs and processes were not properly identified and missed in the pre-construction phases.  

We are starting an upcoming blog series which will identify what we believe is necessary to complete a successful remodeling project.  It is my sincere desire to help remodeling consumers identify necessary pre-construction activities.   I also want to identify some of the pitfalls if these steps are missed up front.  Unfortunately, even if these steps are missed on the “up front”, they still need to be addressed before the project is complete.  As you may already know, mistakes and re-do’s are usually much more costly than upfront planning costs.  Our hope is to educate and provide some transparency in the remodeling world.  We hope this allows you to make the best decision possible as you select a contractor for your next remodeling project. 

At Odd Fellows Contracting, we specialize in providing the best remodeling experience possible for remodeling kitchens, bathrooms, finished basements, decks, and home additions.  To understand a bit more about our process, visit our “Our Process” portion of our website.

For additional information regarding typical breakdowns of pricing, see the following link to the article: “Homebuilder and Remodeler Cost Breakdown” on the NAHB website.