Can You Negotiate Home Repair Services?
Costs for home repair services can really add up quickly. In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate. Here’s how.
May 11, 2022
If you own your home, maintaining it is no small task. In fact, 2021 data shows that households spent an average of $4,886 per year on home maintenance and repairs. And 30% of homeowners in the same survey reported expecting to spend $10,000 or more per year on home repairs, maintenance and upgrades.
There are several ways to keep these costs down:
Doing some projects yourself
Buying used appliances or building materials
Shopping around for multiple offers
Negotiating with providers of home repair services
This article will focus on this last point. Is it possible to negotiate home repair services?
Home repair services examples
Home service providers could include:
Lawn care providers
“Home service” is a broad category that covers both routine maintenance (like yard work) and larger projects (like home renovations).
Can you negotiate these costs? Maybe.
Can you negotiate home repair services?
It may be possible to negotiate certain home repair services. This all depends on the type of project, the size (and dollar amount) of the project and your willingness to put in the effort.
By default, most home repair services work in the following manner:
A customer requests a quote.
The service sends out a representative to survey the property and take notes.
The company prepares a quote for the requested services.
The customer accepts and hires the service (or declines).
In some cases, there may be a fifth step: The customer may attempt to negotiate with the provider.
How to negotiate repair costs
Here’s a breakdown of how to negotiate home repair services for the best results.
Start by getting multiple bids from several contractors
In most cases, the best starting point is to shop around for a few different contractors. Prepare an email with the details of the project, then send it to two to four contractors in your area.
This way, you can get a feel for what prices are likely to be — and you’ll have a better understanding of what is a good deal.
Compare contractor reputation as well as offers
Next, compare the offers you receive. But don’t just look at the raw numbers. Take into account the reputation and quality of work of each contractor.
For example, if one contractor quotes $3,000 and another quotes $2,500, it may seem obvious to go with the cheaper option. But if the pricier contractor has better reviews, you may be better off in the long run by hiring them.
Select your top option
Choose the contractor you’d most like to work with based on your experience with them so far, their reputation, their estimated timeline and, of course, their quote. Even if their price isn’t quite right, choose your top pick here.
Attempt to negotiate on pricing
If the price is a bit out of your budget (or it’s well beyond the price of competitors), it’s worthwhile to ask for a slightly lower price. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Be respectful and don’t low-ball.
Mention that you have other, lower offers from competitors.
Provide as much detail as possible about the project to help them quote it accurately.
Ultimately, you’re in the hands of the contractor here. If they are busy, they are unlikely to lower their prices. But if it’s a slow time of year, you may have more wiggle room.
Home repair costs list
To help prepare your budget for home upgrades and repairs, it’s helpful to have an idea of how much services may cost.
For the most accurate estimates, you’ll need to contact service providers to get actual quotes. But before doing that, you can do some digging online.
Sites like HomeGuide and HomeAdvisor are good places to start. These free resources give you estimated costs specific to your area (contractor costs can vary significantly depending on the geographic area).
Other ways to save
Beyond negotiating, there are some other ways to potentially save on contractor expenses.
Offer to buy your own materials
Most contractors will include the cost of materials in their quotes. While this is convenient, it’s not always the cheapest route, as each contractor has a preferred vendor (which might not be the cheapest for you).
For major projects, like a bathroom remodel, you could potentially offer to supply your own materials. In this case, you’d ask for a labor-only quote, and make it clear that you will provide all the necessary materials.
This approach is also a good way to make comparing multiple quotes easier. If you ask for labor-only quotes from several contractors, you’ll get a more even comparison.
Be flexible on timing
Contractors are busy. If you can be flexible on when the project needs to be done, a contractor may be more willing to negotiate. On the flip side, if you need it done ASAP, they might include a rush fee.
Bundle services or projects
If you have multiple projects to tackle, contractors might be more willing to offer you a deal. For example, if you have a general contractor repair your deck while they’re also renovating your bathroom, that could give you more bargaining power at the negotiating table.
Ultimately, negotiating home repair services is possible — but it's certainly not guaranteed. It’s worth trying, but don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work.
And remember, it’s vital to always be respectful in how you negotiate with contractors. Saying something like “This is what I can afford, what can you do for that price?” is far more effective than saying “That’s too expensive, how about $X?”
Finally, do your best to avoid going into debt to pay for home repairs. If you must finance a project, a home equity line of credit will likely be more cost effective than paying with credit cards.
If you have existing credit card debt, consider consolidating your credit card balances with Tally† Tally may help qualifying Americans get out of credit card debt faster, while saving money on interest.
†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. Based on your credit history, the APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% - 29.99% per year. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.