- Posted by Hinged
For some unfathomable reason, my parents thought a suitable toy for me as a six-year old was a real hammer, a block of wood and jar of nails. Most of the accidental damage that resulted was to my own thumb, but I also did a pretty good job “repairing” our furniture, a mirror and several windows before the hammer mysteriously vanished. Waiting a few more years or maybe fifteen, before exposing me to real tools might have been a good idea, but in retrospect, my parents probably thought the hammer was safer than the knife or gun or whatever really inappropriate toy I really desired.
One unforeseen outcome of my early exposure to tools was an unusual interest in construction that years later led to my writing a senior thesis on the results of adding a time variable to the economics of residential construction. This was a while ago and I don’t remember much about the results, but one thing I do remember is that time is not only an important factor in a decision like when to introduce tools for toys, but a critical element of all phases of home repair and improvement.
With estimates, standard advice is to get three for everything you want done and then take the middle one. Even in a perfect comparison where all three estimates are based on doing the exact same job, with the same materials and warranty, there are three time factors that are often ignored.
The simplest time factor regards how long the job will take or duration. A painting estimate may be for one painter to arrive at your home on Monday morning and then be there every week day for about three months or it may be for eight painters to be there for a week. Both estimates are for the same amount of work hours, but even if they are of equal cost, they will result in vastly different experiences for you and your family.
Another time factor to be considered is when the work needs to be done. A rush repair that has to be completed within a short period of time will be more expensive than a job where the time parameter was set as “whenever you can fit us in”. Make sure that when obtaining estimates everyone gets the same instructions for when the work must be done.
The last time factor that is not often considered is the seasonality of when the estimate is being requested. Based on demand, your tropical vacation will be a lot more expensive during president’s week than if you postpone until August. Most home services have a seasonal demand component. In New England, sprinkler companies are not that busy in February and pool companies can count on being swamped the week of July 4th.
During peak season, work is plentiful, earning potential and the value of the professional’s time is at its highest. Estimates will be set accordingly. Even if the work being priced won’t take place until things cool down, the pricing will be higher to recoup the value of the time taken to create the estimate. Service providers may not be consciously adjusting, but they also may not be responding to phone calls and showing up when promised. This imposes an economic cost on the homeowner instead of a monetary one.
Besides demonstrating why economics is the dismal science, what does all this mean. To get the best estimates schedule them when people aren’t busy and well in advance of when you want the work done. February is a great time to start getting estimates for maintaining your swimming pool, cutting your grass or doing that landscape project you didn’t get to last summer. It’s not a good time for pricing a new hot water heater or gas log set for your fireplace.
Hinged makes it easy to get estimates. Just click on repair, select a suitable provider and schedule your appointment all on one easy to navigate site. You can do it in no time at all, saving time and saving money. Even if you have been using a company that is okay, get another estimate if only to make sure that you are getting a good value. Just make sure to request estimates for summer work now and to wait until May for anything involving your heating system. You may also want to reconsider that tool kit and take a look at the junior microscope the next time you need a present for a young person.