Is this plumber estimate about right?

Old 08-12-11, 03:14 PM
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Is this plumber estimate about right?

I'm finishing my basement and doing a mix if DIY and hiring out plumbing. I got a quote from a trusted plumber and I was planning on getting a second quote just to be prudent but so far all the companies I've been recommended to charge a fee to give an estimate. Could I bounce the original quote off you guys and have you tell me if it's in the right ballpark?

The work includes:
-Installing drains and a vent for a 3/4 basement bathroom. I'm digging the trenches and patching the concrete, the plumber will tie into the drain and run PVC.

-Installing a backflow valve at the drains entrance to the house, again I'm doing any digging and patching.

-Replacing the cast-iron bottom 4 feet of the DWV stack with PVC and adding an above ground clean out (mine is currently in a hole)

-Moving a laundry room sink, I'm digging and patching, the plumber will add the drain and move the hot/cold water line

-Moving the gas line for the dryer across the room

The quote was for $2300. The plumber came well recommended and I liked him when we did the estimate. Does that sound about right?
Old 08-12-11, 03:16 PM
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Can't comment on the actual number but a good process is to solicit three or more bids so you can compare.
Old 08-12-11, 03:28 PM
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Right, and that's what I was hoping to do but so far everyone else I've talked to wants $70 to do an estimate. They'll graciously take the $70 out of the final invoice if I go with them but I hate wasting money so I'd be annoyed if I pay for an estimate I don't go with. Maybe I'm just being too cheap
Old 08-12-11, 04:23 PM
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Yes thats about right.

Your supplying materials?

I base the work you describe as a 40 hour job it would take to complete. Laying lines, moving pipe, pitch properly. Then base that on real plumbing pricing, not gouging.

I would charge $75 an hour. Thats $3000 for 40 hours. He may have calculated 4 days at $2400.

If he is supplying material you got a good deal.

Now I hate to say it but are you getting a permit. Its required and its for your protection. If the plumber says no then I would find someone else. That would mean he is afraid of something or not licensed. A permit is probably 100 bucks.

Get the proper permits and inspections and do it right.

Oh and with todays economy most plumbers will comeout for free if you ask them to waive the fee to come out. Its a slow economy and they dont want to pass up a opportunity to get in your home. Trust me. If they say no just tell them there are other plumbers out there and you will call around. I bet they change thier tune.

Mike NJ
Old 08-12-11, 06:07 PM
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I'll echo what Mike wrote about getting a permit, drainage is not the place to experiment with your own design. You want the work done correctly the first time.

I don't know about where Mike lives but here plumbers are not starving and therefore getting paid to do an estimate is pretty much routine. It DOES cost for someone to come out to your house, measure what you want done and then calculate time (and materials) to complete the job. I suspect that the majority of plumbing companies in my area would charge for such an estimate. That they are willing to credit that estimate in the complete job shows that they are not trying to pull a fast one.

You might have to call every single plumbing company in the telephone book to get three that will give a "free" estimate and trust me, they WILL recover the cost of that "free" estimate if they do the work.
Old 08-13-11, 10:21 AM
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Thanks Mike,
The plumber is supplying the material except the zone valve which I'm getting. Thanks for confirming that the price is reasonable.

I'm definitely getting permits. I have permits for all the work I'm doing and the plumber is pulling his own permit.

I would have thought the same about free estimates but I've called several that said they charge (and give it back if you go with them). Each time I've pushed back a little and they don't budge. I get that it costs money to have someone come out but I think they're missing opportunities...
Old 08-20-11, 09:38 AM
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In my opinion, consumers are bringing this on themselves. I have been hearing more and more stories of trades contractors beginning to charge for estimates that were once free. Perhaps it is because it's becoming common for the contractor arrive to give an estimate to find out the total job estimate is $300 or less and the homeowner is getting 6 bids. In a job that size, even if a contractor is the low bidder, there isn't enough profit in the job to pay for the estimator's time.
Old 08-20-11, 10:19 AM
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You also have to consider the flip side of that situation. A contractor will look at a job and throw out a wild a** number just to see if the homeowner will bite. Without getting competitive bids the typical homeowner is really taking a risk.

IMO time spent giving estimates is part of the overhead expense of the business and contractors should not be laying that on the consumer.
Old 08-26-11, 06:36 PM
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I tend to agree with Wayne... quoting an estimate should be part of the cost of doing business. If it means that labor rates need to go up a bit, or profit margins go down a bit, then so be it. That's life in the big city. Jeeze... next thing ya know they will start charging mileage! (oh wait, a lot of them already do! )

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