Whether you're prepping your home to sell or tackling projects after a long winter, you want to strike a balance between cheaping out and blowing your budget. That's Money Rule No. 39: "Always get three bids. Never take the high one." I'm Jean Chatzky and this is Money Rules.
Unless you're a skilled Do-It-Yourselfer, you're going to need to bring in the pros for most major maintenance projects. And though making time for multiple meetings can be a drag, it pays off. Getting at least three bids will give you an idea of the general price range of a project. You can identify outliers -- if a quote is too cheap, it may be a red flag for shoddy work. If it's too expensive, you'll know you're being taken for a ride. Often, picking the middle quote is your best bet.
Of course, price isn't the only factor. Other things to consider: References (be sure to call them), photos of previous work and professionalism. You want someone who will stick to the scheduled timeline, particularly if a major part of your house, like the kitchen, is about to be disrupted.