Do Contractors Really Lower Their Remodeling Rates in the Winter?

From on January 03, 2012 in Remodeling News

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You’ve probably heard that the off seasons for home remodeling contractors, which are the weeks during very hot weather or very cold, is the best time to get cheaper renovations done at discounted prices.

It makes sense that contractors will be more likely to lower their rates during times when work can be hard to find.

But is this really the case?

We’ve found that indeed, there are substantial savings to found, but not from every contractor.

Choose Indoor Projects to Save

Some contractors lay off workers in the off-season to make up lost income. Others move on to projects specific to the off-season, such as snow removal or firewood delivery. For projects that are primarily indoors, however, such as kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling and even window replacement, discounts are easier to find.

The most important thing to remember when hiring a contractor in the off season is that unless you ask for a discount, you probably won’t get one. But it’s definitely the best time to negotiate for the best price.

If you need pricing for a project this season, click here.

Alex Bandon, an editor for This Old House magazine, says that competition for work may lead contractors to lower their rates during cold weather months. Bandon says that subcontractors, in particular, are likely to be looking for extra work.

“Electricians, tilers, painters: all of these guys usually come in on a bigger project and are booked in the summer,” Bandon said, “but they don’t necessarily have as much to do in the off season.”

A/C and Heating are Cheaper Off-Season

This Old House advises homeowners to install air conditioning and heating systems during the off-season to receive the best service at the best price. They note that manufacturers often offer rebates during the off season as well, which can lead to further savings (particularly on your furnace installation).

The national Energy Star program concurs, but cautions against expecting huge discounts. “While pricing doesn’t vary widely on a seasonal basis,” they advise, “you may find that your installation can be scheduled and completed more rapidly during this off season time.”

Tom Kraeutler, host of the radio show The Money Pit reminds homeowners that during the off season, “materials are available at rock-bottom rates.” By arranging for a remodeling project in the off-season, contractors can take advantage of discounted prices on materials like paint, lumber and concrete.

Looking One Season Ahead

Krauetler advises homeowners to think one season ahead. “If you want to have a deck in the spring, you’re going to have a great price in the winter.”

All the experts seem to be in agreement that the best time to hire a contractor is during an off season, whether the work begins immediately or not.

“It takes a long time to get plans drawn up and permits in order,” Bandon says. “Even if you can’t do the work right now, you can prepare, and the second it gets warm, you can get going.”

Even when discounts are minimal, however, it’s a good idea to hire a contractor before the busy season to ensure that your home remodel gets the service and attention that it deserves.