I do not make free site visits or give hard estimates. I never compete on price, only quality. All work is completed on a time and material basis: $75 per hour plus exact cost for materials. I do not charge for rough budget "guestimates" and advice over email. I can suggest a lot from descriptions, sketches, and pictures. Free is a lot better for most than the dollar twenty-five a minute I charge for site visits.
Any hard estimate you receive from other contractors will be inflated to cover unknowns and worst case scenarios as well as the overhead to cover all of the “free” estimates the contractor has given other homeowners. There is also a heavy incentive to look for every shortcut once the project has started. The get three estimates rule was created by insurance companies. I suggest interviewing three contractors and finding the one you’re most comfortable with.
Whenever you hire a contractor to make improvements, you lose at least 30 cents per dollar on a cost to resale basis. Easiest way to understand is that my overhead does not add value to your home. This does not apply to things that are broken. Broken things have to be fixed, and an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure. Because I work on an hourly basis, the homeowner is free to take on a portion of the work. “This Old House” espouses the value of sweat equity. You would be free to lower costs by obtaining materials, tackling the demolition, daily clean-up, or paint. Not saying you have to by any means.
Among the many benefits of T&M contracts is that I can be fired at any time. It will be obvious pretty quick if I do not know what I’m doing. I fall asleep planning out the coming day and show up prepared. I do not talk on the phone or drag my feet, and have not taken any money down in twenty plus years. I have only used a contract for the last three. If you decide to move forward I will send a contract via Echosign.
Your house is a system of systems, single element failure effects the whole.
Remember that hot air rises and drafts are bad.
Life expectancy and maintenance included in cost-benefit analysis.
Try and abide by not broken, do not fix.
Deconstruction over demolition, recycle packaging and metals.
Tools do the work, we just guide them.