One of the hardest parts of being a professional remodeler is estimating accurately. Every project is unique, each home individual, every client with different goals, tastes, and budgets. The profession of remodeling entails so many facets of construction from careful demolition, preservation of existing finishes, framing, products, general construction knowledge, plus knowledge of all the trades including: HVAC, plumbing, electric, roofing, masonry, etc. The remodeler must be able to evaluate the existing structure for soundness, determine what should stay and what should go, decided how to tie in the renovation to the existing structure, and determine what level of quality will please the client while trying to meet the client’s goals for scope of work, products, and budget.
For “ballpark prices” the remodeler is expected to do all this before there is a working set of drawings, structural engineering analysis, or a thorough walkthrough of the project by the various trades. Remodelers know that often if they give a ballpark number that is too high they stand a good chance of being eliminated from consideration at the start. Likewise, if they give a very low number they will either have to be constantly up-selling the client, write numerous change orders, or lose money and go out of business. None of which properly serves or benefits the client.
As a client it is important to analyze the entire proposal, not just an early price. An effective approach is to interview, choose a remodeler to work with, establish project goals including scope of work, products, and budget and then work with the remodeler, considering options, to meet your goals as closely as possible.