How Do You Tell a Contractor That They Didn’t Get the Job?

Updated September 13, 2021
Photo by Brandon Smith

Letting a contractor know they didn't get the job is a great way to be a more courteous customer.

How do you tell a contractor that he or she didn’t get the job? — Samille Jordan, Amelia Island, Fla.

Most contractors realize they aren’t going to get every job for which they submit a bid, and appreciate the courtesy of a potential client telling them so.

“Just send me a note, that’s fine,” says Mitch Newman, owner of highly rated Stratagem Construction in Chicago. “We take it very well and we’ll be here if you have any problems.”

Newman says it often comes down to budget. “We’re not a Chevy, we’re more like a BMW,” he says. “But some people don’t want a BMW, they don’t need as much quality or caretaking, and price is important because [they only have a set amount] to spend.”

While one bid may be cheaper, experts say to make sure the quality of materials is comparable. Some contractors may also be willing to negotiate their bid just by agreeing to use different materials.

Andrew Lombardi, owner of highly rated Strong Built Construction in Pleasanton, Calif., says to compare bids carefully and get clarification if you have questions.

An estimate should explain who is responsible for obtaining materials and if they’re included in the total cost, along with standard installation procedures and any potential project cost increases.

“Make sure it lists all city licensing fees, permit fees, and inspection fees,” Lombardi says. “Any discounts or Angie’s List coupons should be noted, too.”

After you’ve made your decision, Lombardi agrees with Newman, and says a courtesy e-mail or phone call declining the work is appreciated.