Cost to install natural gas boiler - quote seems extremely high

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  #1  
Old 10-06-14, 12:43 AM
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Cost to install natural gas boiler - quote seems extremely high

Hi everyone,

I currently have a 4 y/o oil boiler. I decided to make the switch to natural gas. Fortunately, my gas company ran the line to my house free of charge.

I talked to my heating contractor before doing so, and he gave me a verbal estimate of about $2500 to install the boiler (two months ago). He selected a Navien condensing boiler with on-demand water heater (retail price is ~$2500). So the estimate was around $5K tops.

Fast forward to today. Since I needed a written quote for rebate purposes, I asked him to send me one. The written quote came in at $8600, which I thought was a mistake. It turns out that he mistakenly underestimated the verbal quote, and that this $8600 quote was the correct one.

To me this sounds extremely high. How does someone underestimate by $3600? Keep in mind that my current oil boiler is only a few years old, so all the piping, pumps, etc.. are new and reusable. Also, this does NOT include removal of the oil tank. There are no new zones, baseboards, or piping.

I'm an avid DIY-er, and I'm familiar with heating, but I can't pull a permit in my city because you have to be licensed.

So even if I price the materials liberally, the numbers still don't add up.
Navien NCB-240: $2300
Taco relay: $200
New taco valves (mine are old, weren't included in estimate): $100/each x 3
Circ. pumps per zone: $100/each x 3
Copper pipe @ $1/ft. - 200ft (waaaay more than needed) $200

This comes out to about $3300 plus miscellaneous expenses (plywood, fittings, direct vent, drill bits, electrical, permit etc...).

So even if I assume an hourly rate of $150 for a plumber, how is there $5000 in labor? That would be almost a full week of work for that to be the case.

For the record, I also got another estimate, and he came in at $6300, which still seems a little higher than I originally expected, but still in the ballpark.

How much should I expect to pay in Massachusetts for a relatively simple gas boiler install?

Thanks in advance
 
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  #2  
Old 10-06-14, 04:24 PM
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Doesn't sound too far off. A mod/con will need new near boiler piping. I find that all the underestimating to be worrisome. I probably wouldn't use him because of that.
 
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Old 10-06-14, 04:30 PM
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If your current system uses three zone valves then you don't need three circulator pumps.... you just need one.

Get a third price.... now.... before the cold weather hits.
 
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Old 10-06-14, 05:07 PM
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I'd certainly be leary of him myself.

He might have low-balled the price being that he wasn't busy at the time and now when everyone is calling him, you want your boiler installed... the time to get boiler installed is in the SUMMER when the heating guys aren't busy...

If your oil system is still working, bite the bullet, buy some oil and use that this winter.

Shop installers and have the system installed in the spring.
 
  #5  
Old 10-07-14, 06:09 AM
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Unfortunately, this is how it goes with boiler installs. I have two friends who recently moved into homes north of Boston and they both have oil boilers, and both got $10000+ quotes to put a gas boiler in, and gas is already in both homes (and I thought my $7800 driveway quote was crazy). I told one of my friends to say that he already had the boiler and his $12000 quote dropped to $11000, "it's still a lot of work", the plumber said.

I myself already had a gas boiler running on propane and was quoted $3000+ by two different companies to simply to a natural gas conversion (all this required was hooking the gas pipe up, plus I had already bought and installed a 13' section of pipe in my ceiling so they wouldn't have to). I finally found a guy to do it for $1600 (which I think is still too high, he was only there for 4 hours).

I don't know if you are going thru MassSave, but if I were in your position I would buy the parts myself, do all the plumbing myself (if you feel comfortable doing so, of course), and then just pay someone to do the gas line stuff since that's where the danger is. I swear, plumbers must hear "boiler install" and jack the labor rate up to $500/hr.
 
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Old 10-08-14, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by slade8200 View Post
Unfortunately, this is how it goes with boiler installs. I have two friends who recently moved into homes north of Boston and they both have oil boilers, and both got $10000+ quotes to put a gas boiler in, and gas is already in both homes (and I thought my $7800 driveway quote was crazy). I told one of my friends to say that he already had the boiler and his $12000 quote dropped to $11000, "it's still a lot of work", the plumber said.

I myself already had a gas boiler running on propane and was quoted $3000+ by two different companies to simply to a natural gas conversion (all this required was hooking the gas pipe up, plus I had already bought and installed a 13' section of pipe in my ceiling so they wouldn't have to). I finally found a guy to do it for $1600 (which I think is still too high, he was only there for 4 hours).

I don't know if you are going thru MassSave, but if I were in your position I would buy the parts myself, do all the plumbing myself (if you feel comfortable doing so, of course), and then just pay someone to do the gas line stuff since that's where the danger is. I swear, plumbers must hear "boiler install" and jack the labor rate up to $500/hr.

Therein lies my problem.

If I buy the materials and install myself, I'm looking at $3.5k, but I'd still have to hire a licensed plumber to pull the permit and run the gas main/meter. (And I'm sure this wouldn't be a $300 job).

Because I'm not a licensed plumber, I would also be ineligible both for the Gas Networks $1200 rebate, as well as the Mass Saves 0% financing.

I also contacted my contractor, and he agreed to use the existing circ pump and taco valves, so the price came down to the mid $6k (in line with the other guy).

So I guess when all is said and done, I'd really only come out ahead around $1500 if I did it myself, but I'd also have to pay it upfront.

I'm an avid DIY'er, so I didn't expect this to be so expensive. For example, I was able to upgrade to 200 amp electrical by buying all the materials and helping my electrician buddy with the install. Including permits, it cost me $900 total.
 
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Old 10-08-14, 09:15 PM
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If you'd only be saving 1500, then just pay someone.

Have you already been talking with national grid (if that is indeed your supplier)? If your house is within 100' of the road it's a flat 500 fee.
 
  #8  
Old 10-09-14, 09:12 PM
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I already had the gas line run from the street. Since Columbia gas is the provider for my area, there was no charge for the line installation. All I have to do is have my service connected and in use within 6 months (they did it in July, so I have a few months to have the boiler installed).

That's also why I really want to use the Mass Saves 0% loan. For example, if I elect to do a 4 year loan on the $5K install (after rebate), it's only an extra $100/month. However, since I use oil now, I'll immediately see a $200/month decrease in heating costs. To me, the return is immediate.

Oh, one other thing...
My current oil boiler is only 4 years old (sells for $3500 new) and in perfect shape, so I would image I'll be able to sell it on Craigslist for $1000 - $1500.
 
  #9  
Old 10-10-14, 07:53 AM
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With selling the oil boiler, even at $1000, the whole project would only be at about $500 cost to you, having someone install the new one, right? Doesn't sound too bad.
 
  #10  
Old 10-10-14, 04:36 PM
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I'd be surprised if anybody offered you even $200 for your existing boiler.
 
  #11  
Old 10-10-14, 04:40 PM
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Me too... there really isn't a market for used boilers.
 
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Old 10-10-14, 05:42 PM
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I'm not sure why?

I know two people that sold their existing boilers for $1000.

For example, my dad has a 20 year old boiler that could use an upgrade. I'd give him mine, but it's not enough BTU's. He's extremely handy, and I could see him buying a "gently used" boiler and installing it himself, saving a considerable amount of money doing so.

It's not like my boiler is out of date. It's still a current model.
 
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Old 10-10-14, 06:44 PM
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Since you brought up BTU's I have to ask, have you done a heat loss calculation on your home?

What does your current boiler have? What does you dad have? Have you done a heat loss on his house, for that upgrade?

120k (heating) will do a good sized home.
 
  #14  
Old 10-10-14, 07:43 PM
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They are on craigslist quite a bit, and they're not on there forever, so they must be selling. Perfect for people who need to replace a dinosaur boiler and can't switch to ng.
 
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Old 10-11-14, 12:55 AM
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I remember some forty years ago when I installed a boiler (complete heating system) in my parent's house. Found a used boiler via the Little Nickel advertising paper and the guy wanted something like $500 for it. I offered $100 and indignantly said he would sell it for scrap before letting it go that cheaply. About a week later he called and asked if I would still give him $100. And this was a steel boiler, one that was of one-piece construction and could be welded if necessary. I wouldn't give five dollars for a used cast iron boiler.
 
  #16  
Old 10-11-14, 07:21 AM
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Well anyways... at $1500 cost for the job I think that's the best you'll find.
 
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