Reasonable Home Improvement Costs?

All of you RE investors here:

I mentioned in another post that I have been looking to get some projects completed and that for once in my life, it wouldn’t be DIY. I also mentioned that the amounts quoted to me over the last three years seemed excessively high to me. And often, when getting competitive bids, the totals vary by more than 10% for the exact same specs.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting old and haven’t changed with the times. Or, if they are the going rate. I’d like your opinion on the latest and, any advice you have in how finding reasonably priced contractors when you need work done on your properties.

Recently got wife on board for replacing upstairs and stairway 40 year old w to w carpet with LVP. But, she won’t let me do it. Even though I did almost 2,000 sq ft up and down with laminate myself at our last house.

This is for three rooms along with 11 stairs, ten of which are open ended. Total about 1,100 sq ft.

We got a quote from a local, well rated flooring store along with one from a highly recommended stair builder/finish carpenter. They did break out materials and labor.

I can purchase at retail right here in the Bay Area, the very same materials of the very same brands they’re using for 30% less than they’re charging me. I checked myself. That’s bad enough but, what befuddles me, is the labor costs.

To wit: Flooring company wants $667 to remove existing carpet and tack strip, $5,653 for the sub (they don’t have employees) to install the flooring and $1,758 to remove and replace the 220 or so feet of baseboard (I hate quarter round and base shoe passionately - was planning to pull existing and reuse but contractor will not do this.). The total flooring proposal is just short of $16,000! That’s more than $14/sq ft. And above what I’ve been told is the high end around here for expensive flooring.

The stair guy says we can’t reuse the existing, oak banisters and spindles because the spindles when he removes them. And, he’s insisting we go to 3 spindles per stair to meet the 4" gap code. O.K. He didn’t break out material and labor. He want’s $3,300 for providing and installing oak handrails, iron spindles and an mdf skirt board. And, he wants another $750 if we want him to stain the hand rails dark as we indicated.

$20 grand for new flooring and stair casings seems excessive to me. Am I out of touch?

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That’s high. I paid $40k for 2,400 sq ft of LVP including 3 sets of stairs and 1,300 sq ft of carpet. That even included some carpentry work to make some steps that were round square for the LVP. If they remove the baseboards, definitely paint them before they are re-installed. It’ll save you a ton of time. Do NOT let them tape the baseboards together front to back. They’ll end up so dirty that you’ll have to paint them after they’re re-installed.

For the stairs, they also didn’t use the bullnose from the LVP manufacturer. They cut a piece of wood, use a heat gun, and form the LVP around the wood. It looks MUCH better than the store bought bullnose. You’ll also want to do something with the risers. I did white for mine.

The second photo is the underneath of it. You can see the LVP is completely wrapped around the board used to make the bullnose.

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These prices are ridiculous. My handyman (isn’t the brightest so had to supervise) installed ~300 sq ft of LVP and baseboard for 700$. (granted the price is low because he was doing other stuff at my place too).

I’d suggest doing the floors yourself and leaving the stairs to the professionals (even at the nosebleed prices).

Everything is outrageous now. Maybe you should wait for the Biden recession that everyone is promising.
In 2003 I had siding put on a new spec house in Redwood City.
The cost was $12k. My neighbor in Tahoe is spending $120k for a similar project… using relatively inexpensive Ukrainian labor
Prices are out of sight.
I am having just the front of my barn resided… $20k…
Last year I had a bid for vinyl plank flooring for 1300sf house. About $15k… figure carpet at about $4k

3 years ago a new roof was $12k. Now the same contractor bid on a similar roof $30k…

Removing carpet can be done for nothing… except the dump fee

Personally I use carpet on stairs… safer and much cheaper

I had vinyl siding redone for a rental earlier this year…~ $10k inclusive of all materials…not in the Bay Area.
Wondering what your neighbor is doing that’s costing 120k?

Definitely not vinyl… I will check the job. But it’s a $1.5m house… you don’t want Vinyl siding. My barn has Hardi Plank board and batten and cultured stone up 12’. The barn is 28’ high and 30’ wide.

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Thanks all for the responses. It made me feel better about my assessment of the situation. I may proceed anyway. Because that will get it done and please the third party in this matter, my wife. Who just wants it done and thinks I make too big a deal about this stuff.

Years back, I had a cadre of friends and neighbors to confer with and, often provide help, with projects like this. But alas, one by one, they all moved out of state and, I found myself not caring much for the folks that replaced them. Particularly the renters as at least 50% of the homes became investor owned and the renters that moved in pretty much shifted the dynamic away from a nice, family neighborhood.

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“Everything is outrageous now.”

Tell me about it.

I need to replace 34 year old. 75 gal, ng water heater in garage. I’ve been debating going with a heat pump hybrid because ng prices have gotten so high that an efficient heat pump unit won’t cost me more in electricity. And because the state seems about to drop the hammer on ng anyway.

I was quoted $6,000 the first time. And $8,000 the second. This is when a the very model of Rheem unit they were proposing could be purchased at HD for $1,200 on sale!. And, both quotes assumed I would be adding the 240V circuit and outlet needed myself. And, I’d be tearing out the existing bench during their install because the current one is failing and I want the new unit sitting on the garage floor. Which was also one of the reasons I was interested in electrifying - no 18" elevation required.

My new neighbor across the street had his 75 gal ng water heater replaced with same by HD a couple of months back. Two guys, three hours work in the evening. And, they hauled away the old one. $3,500! Today, on the HD website, that exact unit sells for $1,300. I should have been a tradesman!

My old Stanley wood garage doors are starting to fall apart. I was figuring carriage house style but not wood. I knew the wooden ones were between $3,000 and $4,500 that I’d looked at in the past. I used one of the manufacturer’s “build your own” and “see on your house” websites to define what I was looking for. Only I spec’ed composite to avoid the wood issues. For a 9X7 and a 16X7 (I have a three car garage) the online total came to…$31,000 installed! Yeah, not going there. I don’t. remember if that was Clopay (HD) or Amar (Costco). I’m still shell shocked by that.

That’s still “just” $11.50/sq ft. If they had proposed that level of cost for mine, I’d probably only be worried about timing (they’re booked out for at least 2 1/2 months) and quality and details.

“Removing carpet can be done for nothing… except the dump fee.”

I know. And, I’ve got a 10’ x 5’ utility trailer. Transfer station is only 9 miles away. First 1,000 lbs $46.

But, they will get it done in less than a day. And, keep the family happy. So I was going to let them handle it.

My fear actually is that they’d either beat up the wall on the stairs or below the stairs, hauling rolled up carpet out to the driveway. Or, they’d they’d want to drop it 15’ down from the open loft to the entry way below. That’s just asking for something to get damaged or broken.

I took the carpet in the old house out myself. about 1,000 sq ft. Rolled it back from the walls and cut into 2’ wide strips and stacked in a paved corner of the back yard. Didn’t even haul them to the dumps. I didn’t have the uitility trailer then.

Just put a couple of rolls in my and my neighbor’s trash each week. With their permission of course. It took a month or more to get it all gone. But it was gone and I’d saved time and money.

“Personally I use carpet on stairs… safer and much cheaper”

  • Not as cheap as it used to be. We were originally going to to wall to wall. Direct replacement for what’s there. Quotes for nice, textured carpet, like what is there, were $8.50/sq ft. Carpet has gone up too. It’s getting close to laminate and LVP.

Of course, no changes in banisters or spindles. Only a few weeks waiting time. But furniture moves an even bigger issue. It turns out, installers don’t like to do that. However, I’m not hauling the large furniture from upstairs to downstairs for any project. Across the room or room to room O.K. But, not downstairs and back up. Even if I sell this place, I might leave the large pieces. :slight_smile:

“Personally I use carpet on stairs… safer and much cheaper”

I’ve had both. I’ve slipped and fallen on both. More so slippers on carpet than anything on laminate.

Carpet is softer. But you can still easily break something when you fall. Like our then Chihuahuas leg. Which cost me more than $5,000 in vet surgery bills.

Falling is the #2 in home fatal accident cause. Stairs are a major contributor to this.

After the fall where I broke our dog’s leg, in talking to neighbors I found out that 100% of those I spoke to had had a serious injury occur in their house by someone falling on the stairs. Sometimes serious enough to send them to the emergency room. I’d lived there for more than 20 years and never really realized that. I thought it was just me.

The house we have now has stair rail on both sides. That makes a huge difference…as long as one using them both.

My farm is one story and handicap friendly. My forever die in home, tile and laminate… wheel chair accessible everywhere. My Tahoe house is two stories. Slippery tile floors even on the stairs. I put no slip tape in strips on the stairs. Even our puppy doesn’t slip on them. Something like this

My flooring bid… Didn’t include baseboards… plus I bet prices are up 20% year/year. I just got a quote for snow removal… double last years bid.

Just to be clear, our Chihuahua didn’t slip on the stairs. For that matter, neither did I.

For reasons I can never understand, I found myself falling face forward, mid span, while walking down the four steps from our kitchen to our family room. With my wife’s beloved 6 lb Chihuahua clutched in my arms.

I managed to literally face plant right into the family room floor.

The Chihuahua flew out of my arms and landed on her side about five feet in front of me. With a loud splat. She let out a cry of pain which brought my wife running. Who grabbed her and started yelling at me. No concern for my well being at that point. I could the dog’s leg dangling freely in my wife’s arms.

The landing broke the dog’s femur, just below the hip joint. This led to “either put her down or let us put metal pins in the femur” at the pet emergency clinic. A decision that was easy to make. As divorce would have been a thousand times as costly. :face_exhaling:

Does that mean you’re going to be doing your own snow removal? :blush:

Shopping around. Maybe buy a plow for my maintenance guy. I can buy a great Honda 928 for the price… $3500. Used to cost $1000 to plow ten parking spaces for the season…5 years ago.

Tom you clearly have skills so if you have the health and time to do it yourself just do it yourself while you can. Phone a buddy and knock it out. It’s not rocket science.

The quotations you’ve received for these specific home renovations are far too high. But you seem to be well acquainted with DIY home improvements and have a lot of knowledge in that area, so maybe you could try to have the job done by yourself. I know there is a lot of work involved in DIY projects, and the result might not be the same as with a constructor, but you really seem to have the expertise required to get started with such a project. Plus, when you draw the line, you will save a lot of money on the labor work. Good luck!