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Question DetailsAsked on 8/16/2017

Remodeling company wants a $350 retainer before coming to the house to give a quote. Is this normal?

I feel that a retainer only makes sense once we have agreed to work together. This company requires one before they even come to my home and quote the job. $350 seems like a very expensive price to pay if I decide I'm not comfortable with moving forward. Is this typical in the remodeling industry or is this company a scam?

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1 Answer


I would say definitely NOT typical except for interior designers and architets and such, who are basically selling you their design services fromm minute one.

Some contractors bidding larger jobs now charge a bidding fee - I do not like it, but some people (especially on remodeling jobs) milk several contractors for several hours for ideas and then combine them with maybe a totally different contractor. Basically, if he is coming to take measurements and a short discussion to a fixed scope fo work, should not be charging to my mind - that is part of his overhead as business development cost.

If spending more than just 10-15 minutes discussing the job, or discussion development of the plan or going over design alternatives (as opposed to just materials and colors decisions) then that is basically design work and it is fair for him to expect compensation for it - especially if more than 1/4-1/2 hour for small job or 1 hour for large (say over $10,000) job for the initial visit. Of course, once he is selected then subsequent discussions over details such as door swing, floor finish selection, paint and siding colors, etc is part of managing the job and shouldnot be separately charged on a fixed price contract job.

There is of course the spam risk - there are some small contractors who charge for initial site visits who seem to make a goodly portion of their money that way, and there are probably scammers out there who milk people for the fee and run. Certainly, to my mind, wanting it up front smells a bit and raises at least a yellow flag to me - if he wanted a check or credit card info handed to him when he arrives less so.

Does he have reviews on his work - if running that sort of a scam presumably someone whould have done a dinging web review to that effect.

Here is a related question with answer on retainers - though for a selected contractor - but pay attention ot the term "retainer" because that at least implies he is already hired for the job, so be careful about anything that commits you to more than the initial bidding visit.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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