When it comes to hiring a contractor for a home improvement project, it's important to know how to negotiate. It's not always easy to ask for a lower price without offending the contractor, but it is possible. The key is to be open and honest about your budget and needs. Explain what you need from the contractor and ask them to give their best possible estimate.
Contractors want your business as much as you want their help, so they may be willing to meet you halfway. When you're comparing quotes from different contractors, look for any extra costs that may be included in the estimate. These can add up quickly and can be negotiated away. If the two quotes are close, you can call one or both and ask if they have room for maneuver.
You don't have to tell them how much to lower the price; they'll know where they can have space. It's also important to trust the contractor you choose. Ask them to agree that any change orders will be quoted at the subcontractor's price plus a fee for the general contractor's administration and profits. If they require a deposit, make sure it's reasonable and consider setting up an escrow account.
Finally, if you're not sure how much something should cost, consider having your architect make a simple one-page layout that you can take to a contractor for a rough quote. Being firm in your budget but honest about what you're willing to spend lets contractors know that you value their work.