Exterior finish carpentry is something of a specialty, although most carpenters do interiors and exteriors. If you need a job done, it is best to ask for several estimates and compare. Here are a few things to consider.
The lowest bid might not be your best choice. Consider the experience of the carpenter or the team. Always ask for references.
If the lowest bid comes from a team that seems to have good experience and good references, talk to the carpenter. If the difference is only a few dollars less, no explanation is needed.
But, if the lowest bid is 25-50% lower than the other bids that you received, you want to be sure that the carpenter is using the same materials. Don't be afraid to ask why the team can do the job for so much less.
There could be a reasonable explanation. If the contractor has been in business for a number of years, he may have more contacts or better sources for premium materials.
If it is a busy company, they may be able to buy the materials in bulk, directly from the manufacturer. That could explain a 10-15% reduction in your total price.
When you are asking for an estimate for exterior finish carpentry, you may be asked to choose a grade. Normally, there are three grades; premium, custom and economy.
The economy grades of materials are less expensive, but usually easier for the contractors to work with. So, the price is lower. An example of an economy grade material would be flexible resin moulding.
Custom and premium grades of materials include real wood, marble, stone and other natural materials. The synthetic materials often look just as good and may last even longer, but usually cost less.
If you want something special, a contractor may give you a custom-grade price, regardless of your choice of materials. A difficult or unique design simply takes more time. So, you are paying for time, in this instance, rather than better material.
Paint is often a big part of the price for exterior finish carpentry, unless the materials being used are vinyl or other pre-fabricated products. Higher quality paints last longer but cost more. The cost of seamless vinyl siding is higher, but it looks nicer and is less likely to bow in the heat or blow off during a windstorm.
Once you have received a few bids for your exterior finish carpentry, talk to the contractors and make sure that you feel comfortable communicating your needs. Poor communication can mess up the job as much as a low quality material.