Contractors vs Big-Box Installation

general contractor
Classic Home

Understanding the Difference Just Might Save You Money

Convenience and trust. Two important factors play a major role when considering your next renovation. While a renovation is not usually thought of as convenient, the timeline and security that comes with the company you choose will affect whether you decide to invest in the project… or not. Let’s debunk a couple of myths about working with big-box installation services and why it pays to shop locally.

Myth #1 – “In-House” Installers

We flock to major retailers for convenience and assume that their buying power gives us a better price. In the past several years home improvement box stores have continued to add to that convenience by providing “in-house” installation services. In-house is defined as “created, done, or existing within a company or organization”.  However, these services are rarely in-house. For the most part, these projects are contracted out to local providers. That doesn’t seem so bad – so what’s the catch? Cost. There are often several layers of contractors taking fees that you don’t see. The big-box also adds a mark up on top of the contractor cost. While the mark up may vary, you’re often looking at an additional 30%. This translates into the consumer paying more for services that they could have obtained directly for far less.

Myth #2 – Helping Local Businesses

But big-box installation services help local businesses, don’t they?  Since the stores themselves don’t have an installation crew, they contract out the work to local companies. Yes, this is true. They sell you the service at a premium price, promising security and a variety of payment options. This is a very valuable solution for many home owners. We naturally think that a premium price is associated with premium work. So you would expect to get a great local business working on your project, financing options and the security of the big-box store. What’s not to like? The local business is hired at less than market rates. The result, typically, is installers who are underpaid and therefore provide less than adequate service. Which brings us to our next point: security.

Myth #3 – Security

As for the security, you don’t need to look much further than the recent breach of a big-box store’s consumer credit information to debunk that myth. But more importantly, the big-box carries no insurance or WorkSafe coverage for the project. These are items that must be provided by the local installer. The warranty is also covered by the installer. If you’d like to claim any warranty issues it’s not an easy task. Your complaints must go through a chain of command and then back to the contractor who completed your project. At this point, it’s very easy to start pointing fingers with little resolution. You don’t need to go very far to find someone who has had a negative experience with a big-box installation service.

Invest in a Good Contractor

When looking for a qualified installer (or renovator) we suggest you research online. There are countless websites dedicated to providing feedback on Contractors. Check out their website or Houzz profile to get an idea of the type of work they’ve performed by browsing galleries of their projects. The Better Business Bureau is still a great way to find a reputable company to complete your project. Friends, neighbours and others in the community have used these types of services before and asking around never hurts. How many times have you asked your network on Facebook for a recommended mechanic or dentist? You have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips!

We all wish there was an easy button. But good planning and working with an installer you trust will make your life easier in the long run. Pay a fair price and put that money in the pocket of a local business owner rather than a corporation that underpays and underperforms. [

If you’re thinking about a renovation project but aren’t sure what you need to get started, contact us. We’d love to help you understand the basics that are needed, and what kind of budget to expect before you begin