Avoid Overpricing: Common Home Repair Price Estimates

When having common home repairs done, get several estimates and a list of references from the potential contractors before making a decision.

Obviously, costs for various home repair projects will vary depending upon the area of the country where you live. Sometimes these prices vary because of the costs of lumber, hardware and other home repair items in your area. Usually, you will get your most reasonable estimate from an independent contractor. Large companies have tremendous overhead which they pay for by charging you more. Although you should be wary of a contractor who approaches your home in search of work, it doesn't necessarily mean he's not an honest worker with impeccable skills. Just be sure to get an estimate in writing and several references. In addition, make sure he carries insurance that will cover him should he be injured while working for you. Before signing anything, discuss the particulars of the job with the contractor, deciding what improvements he will do and how he will go about them, along with what types of materials will be used. When ready to hire a contractor, make sure you each sign a legal contract agreement stating specifically what will be done and how much it will cost. Although on occasion the price could go up if the contractor should happen to uncover further problems that what was originally anticipated, beware of any sudden rise in the originally stated price. For instance, if you receive an estimate on a carpet laying job, but the contractor discovers rotted wood underneath the existing carpet, this will cost more than the original stated price.

Whenever possible, purchase your own supplies. Some contractors will refuse to use materials purchased by the customer, for fear the supplies are not top quality. Many contractors raise the price of supplies by 10-20% or more to cover their time and trouble. Often you can call a home improvements store and have the supplies delivered directly to your home, usually at no additional charge. In some instances, there is a mileage charge, so check with the store before placing your order. If you're unsure of exactly what you will need, have the contractor write a list of all materials connected to the job. Or, call the home improvement store and ask what for a list of all supplies needed. In the case of a job that requires you to view the materials first, such as new carpeting, go to the store and make your selections, then arrange for the store to deliver the carpet and any installation supplies to your home, or deliver the items yourself if you have the means.

Have an idea in mind of what it should cost to have a particular job completed. There is a big price difference if the contractor will be supplying the materials. Here is a general list of average prices per job, including materials:

Building a deck:

$12-$20 per square foot


Install new circuit breaker panel: $500-$700

Add conventional receptacle: $75-$150

Upgrade electrical service: $1200-$2000

Heating/Air Conditioning:

Install air-forced furnace: $1700-$3500

Install thermostat: $100-$300

Clean ductwork: $250-$500

Install electric baseboard heaters: $150 each

Install central heat and air: $8000+

Plumbing: Replace commode: $300-$400

Replace sink: $200-$300

Replace Bathtub: $800-$1200

Retile around tub: $700-$1000


Refinish hardwood floors: $2.00/sq.ft.

Replace a window: $100+

Paint interior: $3500+


Shingle over existing shingles: $2/sq.ft.

Strip and roof with cedar shingles: $6/sq.ft.

Rebuild crumbling chimney: $150/lin.ft.

Reflash skylight: $300-$500


Install aluminum soffits: $6-$12/lin.ft.


Rebuild basement stairwell: $3500+

Build wooden retaining wall: $20-$40/sq.ft.

Build concrete retaining wall: $30-$40/sq.ft.

Install basement support beam: $200

Repair crack in concrete foundation: $500-$800

Carpet installation: $3-$5/sq.ft.

Install hardwood flooring: $4-$8/lin.ft.

Generally, it's a good practice to get between three and five estimates on the intended project to get an idea of what is normally charged in your area for that particular type of job. If you want to save money, you should probably choose the independent contractor, but if you want the work done pronto, and you don't mind paying the maximum price, the large company is likely your best bet.

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