As I noted yesterday, we had a second contractor come to give an estimate. This was another of the ones that I got through a cold-call. This is also, I think, the last one of that kind. Among other things, he showed up early, without calling ahead, and managed to get lost in the complex. I think that finding our place is going to be a litmus test for contractors. We'll grade them on the number of extra phone calls it takes to get them to the front door. The first took three and this one took one.
This one was far lower pressure than the first, I'll give him that. In fact, he was so low pressure, he didn't seem interested in the job very much. He listened a bit, measured a bit (after borrowing our tape measure!) and gave us a rough quote. $60 per linear foot of cabinets in the kitchen and about $20K for the flooring. That puts the kitchen at about $22K, which is much nicer than the $39K the last one quoted.
Written estimate? "We don't give written estimates." I must be old fashioned, but I wouldn't consider any contractor who won't give a written estimate. What good is a verbal if he can deny it when it comes time to sign the contract? I can understand the contractor's point of view, sort of. They don't want to expend a lot of effort if we aren't going to commit, but then, they must not need the business that much.
I doubt that we'll end up with either of these. Neither my SO nor I got a good feeling about this one.
The next steps: We visited Home Depot on Friday and set up an appointment to have our place measured by their contractor. This takes a $100 deposit (refundable if they end up with the job.) I don't mind paying that up front to get the process started. Once it's measured, then we'll go in and talk to a designer and work up a real estimate (written, even) for the job. We'll do this for both the kitchen and the flooring — the flooring person estimated $14-$16/sf for the stuff we want, which is about $20K total, so that's in line with the other estimate. I'm not terribly fond of HD, since they tend to drive smaller places out of business and shopping there can be hell, but the two people we talked to about this were personable and listened to what we had to say. That's counts for something, I can tell you!
We're also going to have a flooring store do an estimate, as well as get an individual contractor to bid that. I've got a couple more contractors for the kitchen to check out as well.