Why I DIY, Reason #15 (I Hate Getting Ripped Off)

Y’all, I’m going to vent a little today because the frustration I’m experiencing today is all part of remodeling an old house. If you’re not okay with a little venting, I suggest bypassing this post. 🙂

There really are many reasons I DIY, and I’m pretty sure I’ve even written a post or two about it before. The main reason I DIY is obviously because I enjoy it. I don’t think I could do something day in and day out if I didn’t enjoy it.

The next reason I do it is to save money. Custom cabinets cost a fortune. I can build them for a fraction of what someone else would charge. Having custom draperies made isn’t cheap. I can make them for the cost of the fabric only. You get the idea.

But sometimes I think, “It sure would be nice if someone could do this for me and let me focus on something else.

Sometimes when I get a quote for something that I know full well I can do on my own, my thought process is along the lines of, “Well, that price is reasonable, but since this is something I’m capable of doing myself, I could save that money and use it on something else, like having my studio insulated and drywalled.

But every once in a while, I’ll get a quote for something, and my initial response is more along the lines of, “WHAT THE HECK?! ARE YOU FREAKING INSANE?! Do I have the word “sucker” written across my forehead?! I don’t know who you think you’re dealing with here, but you need to get off my property right now, you thieving little @#$#@!!

This has happened to me twice now in this house. The first time was soon after we moved into the house, and I got quotes for trimming the four or five trees that are the closest to the house. The first person gave me a quote of $10,000. I thought he was joking at first. Then I realized he wasn’t joking, and I was just stunned. I ended up getting it done (by the same company that Chip & Joanna use, I’ve noticed) for $1800.

The second time was just last week.

I really want to get my front porch finished up soon, because right now the rest of the house exterior is looking so much better, but the porch that sits right in the middle of the house exterior is still plagued with some pretty ugly elements. Most of it I’ll do myself, but there were two things I wanted to hire out.

First, I wanted to hire out the installation of the rest of the Hardi boards. Since I hired out the rest of the siding installation, and I don’t own a siding nail gun, I wanted those same guys to come and finish up the trim on the porch. And to be clear, I’m not even talking about the porch ceiling or wrapping the columns, both of which I plan to do myself. I’m just talking about these areas that are rotten and need to be removed and replaced to tie in with the new Hardi boards on the side…

I don’t know all of the correct terms for these boards, but it includes 21 feet of drip edge flashing, the 1 x 2 that goes behind the drip edge, the 1 x 4 that goes behind that, the fascia board that’s tucked between that 1 x 4 and the main beam, and then the three boards needed to wrap the three exposed sides of the beam. That’s it.

In addition to that, I also wanted to have what I call “risers” installed on the front porch. They did this in the half bath/mudroom area at the back of the studio in order to make that floor level with the main studio. That area back there had a concrete floor, and it was a little unlevel. Also, if they had just added plywood to the top, it would have been about 1.5″ lower than the studio floor.

So they took ground contact pressure treated 2 x 4 boards, ripped them down to the correct height, and nailed them to the concrete. They leveled the strips as they went, and then put the plywood subfloor right over the top. When finished, that floor was level with the studio floor.

Well, I need those same risers/spacers installed on the front porch for two reasons. First, the porch is unlevel, so I want those risers cut so that the final porch floor will be level. And second, I don’t want porch boards placed directly onto the concrete because it could cause problems when it rains and the water has nowhere to go. Those porch boards would just be sitting in water until it evaporates. I need those risers installed before I can add my pretty stainable porch boards.

So since they had already done that once, I thought it would be nice if they did that part of the front porch project for me. It’s literally taking 5.5-foot-long 2 x 4 lumber, ripping it down (basically to create “floor joists” that I can use to nail the actual porch boards to) and nailing those strips to the concrete, which would look something like this…

If they’re spaced like actual floor joists, I’d need 15 of them. That’s it. I didn’t even want them to install the porch boards. I’m looking forward to doing that myself.

So what was the cost (for labor only — I’d supply everything else needed) for ripping and nailing 15 pieces of wood, plus installing 21 feet of drip edge and Hardi boards?



Two thousand dollars for work that would take two guys one day to do.

For perspective, these are the same guys who did the siding on the rest of the house and charged me $4000. That job included the removing all of the old vinyl siding, removing all of the asphalt siding and original wood shiplap siding under that, removing all of the old rotting fascia boards, removing the old drip edge flashing, installing new OSB sheathing, wrapping with new Tyvek, installing all new siding and trim boards (including the eaves), adding new step flashing to both sides of the breakfast room roof, removing the stone from the side of the living room, reframing that wall, and notching out about 35 feet of concrete footing so that the new siding would sit level. That job took them about a week, and they charged me $4000 (labor only).

And to rip and nail 15 boards to my front porch and install 21 feet of Hardi trim, all of which should take no more than a day, the cost is $2000.

There are times when I get a bid that I think is too high, but it’s just high enough to give me that push that I need to start making plans to do the job myself. That was the situation with the porch ceiling. I asked my new favorite handyman how much he would charge to install the ceiling boards on my front porch, and I think his price was something like $550 (labor only). In my mind, I thought that price might be a bit too high for a job that I estimated would take him and his helper maybe three hours to do. But the price wasn’t offensively high. It was just high enough that I thought I could do it myself and save that money for something else. And it wasn’t so offensively high that it made me want to kick him off of my property, hurl a few choice words in his direction as he left, and permanently scratch his name off of my list of people I hire to work at my house.

But this $2000 labor-only bid for one day’s work did just that. It’s so offensive to me that I’m still stewing about it three days later. Do they think I’m just some stupid little woman who doesn’t understand what goes into these projects? Did he just not want to do the job (which very well may be the case) so he gave me a ridiculous price? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that his name has been permanently scratched off of my list. I won’t even bother getting bids from him in the future.

And as for those trim boards and risers? I’ll do it myself. I called the rental store this morning and found that I can rent a siding nail gun for $30/day. Add that to the few pieces of Hardi trim, 8 pieces of 12-foot 2 x 4’s, siding nails, construction glue, concrete nails, and gunpowder “bullets” I’ll need for my Ramset, and I’ll bet I can get the job done for about $250 for supplies with FREE labor. 😀

Have you ever gotten a quote that went beyond “that’s too high” into the “YOU’RE FREAKING INSANE” territory? Thankfully it doesn’t happen often to me.

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  1. Holy cow! Thank goodness you are savvy to these kinds of shenanigans! Can you imagine the number of people out there who would get ripped off like this? Grrr

  2. I had contacted a roofing company hoping to get some repairs done and he came out, gave me the big sales pitch about how they don’t do repairs but I could get a brand new high end shingle roof with synthetic underlayment and ice and water shield at the eaves for only $8,000 (my roof is 1,500 square feet and very low slope). I’ve been in the roofing industry for the past 8 years and I told him that up front, but he still talked to me like I knew nothing.
    I’ve tried to get quotes for A LOT of small projects, and they always come in ridiculously high. Contractor’s hate small projects! Plus, they still have to do the project start-up fees/overhead costs that might be absorbed into a larger project.
    We see that all the time with our commercial roof designs- a 20,000 square foot roof replacement will come in at $20/sf, but the same system will cost $40/sf on a 4,000 square foot roof.
    I absolutely hate it as much as you do, but I think it’s very common for small, “unappealing” projects to cost much more.

    1. Yep. Happened to me a while back. Wanted a coat closet removed that was near my front door. Estimate just to take the closet out? $1500.00!!!! Needless to say, I got my saw and hammer out and got it done. Learned how to do a stipple technique and repaired the ceiling, hung beadboard and extended the hardwood flooring to fill in the empty space that the closet left once it was gone. Needless to say, he won’t be getting any of my business! lol

  3. While living in New York we needed asbestos remediation done on a Victorian home. The company that was recommended were requiring us to leave the home for two days while removing the asbestos covered furnace in the basement. When pressed for details as to how he was going remediate the asbestos it was stated “he knows what he is doing”. The man then proceeded to ask about my husbands job, the cars in the driveway and the motorcycle in the garage. The next day I received the quote of $10,000 that left me gasping for air. Promising I would call back in a few days I checked around and was able to get the job done for $3500 with a company that was able to give an outline of what they will do. I called back and told him of my new quote…..he hung up on me.

  4. It’s a shame they just won’t tell you up front that the job just won’t be profitable enough for them. (Which is most likely the case for this job) I think that is fair. Because now you have lost a potential contractor who had done a good and reasonable job for you. And yes, I want to punch them inthe face when they try to “Little woman” you.
    Contractors all could be very wealthy if they would just be moral and honest, show up on time, and do what they say they will do! Why is that so hard🙄

    1. Tracy- I agree with you. Perhaps they’re getting very busy doing things they couldn’t get to during the winter. Well why not say “Sorry but we’re booked up solid”? Contractors would benefit from telling the truth. If they simply have bigger fish to fry then simply say sorry we can’t do it at this time. Any reasonable excuse is better than a giant price gouge.

  5. It was right before my daughter’s wedding and i asked a landscaper to give me a price to mulch the front and side of my house by the house where my bushes and roses are. Not a big space. Quote was 700.00! I too thought he was joking. He has done work for us in the past & was reasonable. Needless to say we did it ourselves for under 100.00

  6. Just recently had our sewer line collapse, needless to say this caused some concern as we could not use showers, washing machine, dish washer or and most important- toilets. Just getting someone to call us back to give us a quote took an act of God. First quote $35,000.00 that’s right $35,000.00 and non of this damage was covered by home owners (since changed that). We lived 6 weeks in our motor home waiting on contractors to call back or find time to address this with a quote we could live with. Final contractor charged $6500 dollars and completed it in 3 days.

  7. I totally agree Kristi. I also hate when they come by, give a quote, I agree that the price is ok and they say they will need a couple of weeks before they can get to my job. 2 1/2 years later, I am still waiting (not really) for them to call and get started. Meanwhile, I am now badmouthing that company to anybody I come in contact with and that can be his biggest nightmare. Like someone else said, just tell me you don’t want to do the job and I will accept that. Don’t feed me a line and then blow me off. Bad public relations is what can ruin a business. I get really frustrated by this tactic.

  8. What strikes me as so weird about this is the fact that they’ve already done a MUCH LARGER project for you at a reasonable price. Why would they put out such a ridiculous price for this work? Clearly you have something to benchmark the ridiculous quote against. So odd to me. Sorry about that. I feel like vendors try to rip us off all the time, so I know how you feel.

    1. I think they under bid the 1st job they did,,and was going to try and make it up on her second job,,
      I have gotten that a lot thru some of my remodels.

  9. The prices on things vary so much, it’s hard to know if you’re getting a good deal or not but this one sounds really out there. Amazing.

  10. I had a hairstylist that hated doing perms so much that she posted a $500 price for it. She said that price was what it was worth to her to do…and if someone was willing to pay that much she’d muster up the wherewithal to do it!

    1. It does seem like they don’t really want to do the job. A high estimate is a sign that they are not interested.

  11. Yeah, paint shutters and fix our roof. I called 3 handymen to come out and give me a quote on the shutter (there are only 6, but they are on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the house) the shutters I have been quoted as high as $1000 and the roof (I’m missing 4 shingles) and was quoted $800. So I will be waiting til spring and hopefully getting my brothers to come help and I’ll pay them in cake 🙂

  12. Yes, this happened to me a few times. First, I was moving into a new house and wanted to see how much it would be to paint the whole interior of the house. I called some guys who had painted my prior house, they were very reasonable when they did that job. The quote was $10,000 for the home that I was moving in to. Needless to say, I did a lot of painting myself that year.

    I also have a small leak that caused some ceiling drywall damage. The drywall does not have to be replaced, just retaped and mudded. The area is about 2′ x 2′. The quote was $500.

    So, I still have a ceiling that needs to be done.

    I feel your pain!

    1. Yup! I was going to paint the interior of our new construction house myself but with the timeline it just didn’t work out. We tried to get our contractor’s painter in but he couldn’t do it. Then I got bids from a few different professional painters and they wanted $8k when our original quote was $5k when I’d already done the ceilings, primed everything, and gotten a first coat on half the rooms. I understand there was more work involved to avoid the finish work the builders had done, but we just couldn’t stomach paying that much when I’d spent a month busting my butt already. We hired a guy who is a retired painter and he’s doing it for $150/day.

  13. I’ve found it helpful to not only ask for a $ quote but also to ask how many hours it’s estimated to take to complete the job. I think that reminds them to keep the $ estimate more realistic.

  14. Kristie: My husband is a contractor…not for house work, but a contractor. Yes, the bid does matter how big of a job and how busy they are. It might seem like they are taking advantage of you as a consumer, but it is also your right to walk away. Consider that they have to buy trucks, pay for liability insurance, pay employees, buy tools, replace tools, etc. I would say challenging their quote would be acceptable, but if they don’t change it, agree to disagree and more forward. I also think you could say ‘I expected X but what causes the difference.’ Good luck!

  15. I think part of the frustration here is that you don’t understand the quote. Why are these people who were so reasonable in the past being unreasonable? They appear to be betraying your trust. But you don’t really know unless you ask. They know you; they know you’ll smell a bs bid. As others here have suggested, I think they don’t want the work and are pricing accordingly. This isn’t personal at all. If that’s the case, you should think again before crossing their names off your list. They did good work before – when their goals aligned with yours. I’ll bet they’ll do good work again, when the circumstances are right. But the only way you’ll know is if you confront them on the bid and ask for an explanation.

  16. my “holy cow” bids usually involve vehicles. I had one mechanic tell me I needed my carburetor rebuilt, but I knew I had a fuel injected car (thus no carburetor). Another time I got a quote for new breaks at almost $1000 (cost me $200 in parts, including new rotors). We did recently get a quote on replacing the fence in the backyard. It was $6000 and while probably not a completely unfair quote since it included labor, materials, and debris removal, it was more than I really wanted to spend. I have three teenage boys who will work for pizza and Dr. Pepper so I just couldn’t justify the labor cost. We’ll be doing this ourselves for about $1000.

    For your guy, was there any negotiating room with the quote? I hate to see you loose a contractor whose work you were happy with, but definitely, it doesn’t mean you should be taken advantage of!

  17. There are enough ridiculously high contractor bids out there to fill a phone book.

    On a different note, before you put your deck joists down on your old concrete porch, be sure to assess if it is adequately sloped towards the front, the yard side, so that rain water doesn’t pool under the new wood deck, or worse, puddle up against the house side.

    I do not know what sort of outdoor thin set you will need to use to skim the old concrete porch, but better be sure that all of it drains properly to the front of the house, before you put in the work to lay the joists for your new decking.

  18. I just got a quote of $2900-$3200 to skim coat our walls in the main living/kitchen area. 500 sq Ft! MY jaw dropped! Guess I’ll be waiting awhile or doing it myself

  19. Asking how much they would charge an hour and asking what is involved in that higher quote than you though necessary are both very good suggestions!
    We’re getting an overhaul done on our kitchen and I said no to someone we have used and liked because I thought his quote was stupid high. I’ll be saving about 7 thousand dollars with someone else.

  20. I have found that a job may be overpriced when the worker simply just does not want the job. We got several estimates for a roof job and one was totally insane; he did not want us to want him. Good luck!

  21. A lot of times we are just too too busy to take on another job. We may be low on staff as well. The tools we would need will be elsewhere and we would have to rent more to take on that little job. Various reasons we actually have to turn down work. But when they keep on at us, which I’m sure is not the case for you, I tell them, due to all those reasons it will cost much more than usual and we just don’t like to charge higher than our standard rates. If they then keep on, I will finally throw a much higher quote to them. Many times, they will pay it! When we are running on no sleep, and working 7 days a week, I fight feeling like a thief to do it for that rate! But we take that higher rate, and give our men bonuses for keeping on at the hours they are pulling. I really don’t think this fits your case, but it is why we sometimes give much higher than usual quotes….but only when it was persistently asked of us. I wish we could find some other local crew to recommend in these cases, but we just don’t know of any.

  22. I used to have problems finding good contractors or appliance repair providers. I then found Home Advisor and everything change. I have found reliable people who give reasonable quotes and do good work in a timely fashion. There are plenty of reviews to read before you contact anyone. You may want to give it a try.

    1. I used Home Advisor to try and find a Handyman. Out of 5 people I called, only one returned my call. He made a big stink about it being too cold to do outside work, but he’d do it anyway. Then he asked me when we could meet so I could give him his deposit. He had THOUSANDS of positive reviews. I’ve heard so many people say they’ve had luck with Home Advisor, but I never have..

      1. I tried using Home Advisor last summer but didn’t have any luck either. I called eight contractors of which three called me back. I made an appointment with those three companies but two of them never showed up for the appointment. One called back to apologize since he never wrote my appointment into his calendar and thus double booked himself but never showed up for the second appointment either. The one guy who did show up gave me an out of this world insane quote. Such a waste of my time.

  23. I’ll add my 2-cents because we own an overhead door company in the great state of Texas and we bid jobs (mainly commercial jobs) all the time, although we do have a robust residential market we service as well. I would probably guess that the bid reflected their desire NOT to do the work you wanted. Unfortunately this is a “thing” some companies do. They may have underbid your previous job because A.They needed work. B.They miscalculated or C.Refer to A. 🙂
    Miscalculations, while not desirable on either side, does happen. And since they’re only bidding labor? My professional guess would be they didn’t want to do it. Sorry – you’ll do a fantastic job!

  24. We had a little row home and wanted a few things done (replace front door trim which was rotting, fix some masonry work around it, put up a wall upstairs, and fix the backdoor trim which was also rotting). We figured, at most, it’d maybe be 5k as we figured the masonry work and electrical with the wall could get expensive. Bid came in for 34,000!!!! We were basically like get out (he came over to discuss in person). We ended up having a family member come help (he’s a contractor), it took him 4-5 days to do everything and materials/supplies were around 1500. Yeah I have no idea, do they just give you a ridiculous bid for small jobs in case some people accept?

  25. I wonder if the contractor felt he had “under bid” the first job, or found out you’re a “famous person”.
    I’m not kidding about the “famous” part. Back-in-the-day a local TV personality friend was quoted outrageous bids for a small job. I told her to ask a friend to “front” for her while getting the next bids. Yep, they came in at about a third of what she had been quoted.

    1. I also wonder whether they felt they underquoted the first job so were trying to make us some of the loss on this job.

  26. I haven’t had this experience since I’m unable to do much DIY and just live vicariously through you!

    I did wonder, though…isn’t the porch floor supposed to be slightly pitched to drain off any water if a blowing rain or something were to get it wet?

  27. I needed this post this week! Just had exactly the same experience with tilers.

    We are building a brand new house from scratch about an hour from where we live with my parents and we are dying to get in to cut travel time so I thought we might be able to speed things up by hiring out the tiling.

    Ensuite and bathroom floor only and they wanted to charge $2300 plus extras for cutting around the drains and niches! What word did you use? @$$&€*!

    And they wouldn’t lay the pattern I wanted…. not complicated, just brick pattern but divided by a third of the tile instead of half.

    So we’ll take the extra time and diy thank you very much!

    Thanks for making me smile this morning! You’re an inspiration.

  28. Super high quotes are normal in the business when you don’t want to do a job. It is what happens when a contractor doesn’t want to put off a days work to do a small project so they over quote. If you are willing to pay the $2,000 for a half days work, perfect. If not, they didn’t want the work anyway, so no loss. It is actually quite common and I am surprised you haven’t run into it before.

  29. I guess labor is really, really expensive? I just got a quote for a simple four corner 730 sf house with unfinished basement. House only….doesn’t include land, driveway, grading, utilities or septic. Nothing fancy. So far the lowest quote was $140,000 and the highest was $161,000. I had no idea houses cost so much to build.

  30. OH YEAH….have I had a quote that was so offensive it discolored every other thing the man said after. It was for raising a shelf in my front closet and make a bench across the width so in essence I would have a mudroom closet. $1500.00 dollars for essentially a bench and raising a shelf! SERIOUSLY!!!! Never called the guy back, and yeah by the end of the walk through he had slashed his price to $800.00, with me doing all the caulking and painting! Had he said that first I could have stomached thinking it over, but $1500.00. Is it like the game show, name that price, where you throw out anything? I am still offended and yes will do this myself. By the way, your house is beautiful and workmanship is awesome!

  31. I hope they see this column. They should be glad you didn’t give their names. The bright side is they cost themselves this job and possibly others. Plus, you’re going to sharpen your skills while saving a bundle. And it sound like you have a nice, skilled brother you can call on.

    We called a guy over last summer to see about planking a ceiling. He seemed enthusiastic and promised to get back with us (they all do), but he didn’t. We emailed him and he claimed he couldn’t find any 10-foot tongue and grove boards. When we replied that one of the home stores has them, there was no response at all. He must think we’re dumb not to know that 8 and 12-foot boards would also work. In the meantime, we had the ceiling tile in the room tested for asbestos and it came up negative. We’re going to rip out the tile ourselves and see where it goes. In the end, the guy probably did us a favor.

  32. Both me and my daughter and son-in-law have had such experience with contractors. I wanted a small repair of the gutters – 2 brackets needed to be replaced, it is a 2 store house and I just didn’t have long enough ladder. Placed the project on a web site, where the contractors, who are interested can contact you. Two guys came, said I need a new gutter and they would do it for £700. I asked how much of it would be the cost of materials and how much labor. They said 50-50. I drove to the nearest DIY store and calculated the total price for all the possible materials (the most expensive options), including screws and nails. It was less than £100, not anywhere near the £350 they implied it would cost.

    My daughter and son-in-law bought their first house last year – a lovely Georgian cottage not far away from London. The roof still has the original tiles. There was a small leak and they asked 3 different roofers for quotations. The first 2 didn’t bother to climb to the roof or in the attic (there is a ladder there) , had a look from the garden, suggested a brand new “modern”!!! roof, which would totally ruin the character of the cottage, and quoted several thousands of pounds. The third roofer came in the morning, on his way to another job, climb on the roof, then they heard him hammering something, climbed down, showed them before and after pictures (some tiles were misplaced) and asked for £20.

    Same with trimming a tree – quotations for £1000, for £1300, and for £300. Guess which contractor was hired.

    Sorry for the long comment, I am venting too 🙂

  33. Supply and Demand. We had a very large tree cut down in our front yard for $400. Two weeks later a big storm came through and lots of people lost trees, big and small. We lost one tree about half the size of the one that had just been cut down. Same company bid for $1200!! Ended up hiring a man who worked on the side and paid him $400. Took him forever, because he had a small trailer and chain saw, but I will never call that other company again.

  34. Well, just wait, Kristi. I’ve been dealing with this kind of crap for over 40 years and a lot of those years I was divorced (so no “knowledgeable” male presence) which made the situation even worse. I have found that even if you find someone who is reasonable on a job, you still need to get additional quotes for the next job because it doesn’t mean they will always be your best bet. Now it is even worse than before. I am 71 and suddenly “dumb and senile” I guess. So, I always research what I need done so that I understand it and am familiar with the terminology. Then when they start explaining it, as if talking to a 7yr old, I can throw out enough terminology or technology to make them wonder just how much I do know. I had hoped by the time my granddaughters were grown things would have improved but I see that too many service people are still living in the 1950’s. So sad.

    1. Connie,, I go thru this with auto repair,,I’m 70,, have owned and worked on dump trucks for 26 years,,and been a purchasing agent for heavy duty truck and trailer parts for 18 years,, sold parts, installed parts, and they see me walk in and some 18 year old behind a auto supply store starts talking to me like I’m his senile grandma,,,,,,,I just smile and think to my self,, I have forgotten more than you’ll know in the next 10 years..hahaha. I guess they don’t stop to think we who do our own repairs are not total idiots…

  35. Thinking back I can not pin point if this has happened to us, but I sure it has at some point. While on the subject of estimates though, we need to re-do out chimney because the mortor is cracking away and we can not use the fireplace because of it. Has anyone ever havpd anything like this done? I have no idea what is reasonable for something like this.

  36. I guess I’m odd man out. Not that I want to pay that, but I would expect close to that amount, but with materials included in my area. It’s so expensive to have any type of home work done here.

  37. Yep! My husband and I have learnt to do so much ourselves because we didn’t want to pay the outrageous prices that we’ve been quoted in the past. That and sloppy workmanship, lazy and unreliable sub contractors. We’re all about DIYing as much as we possibly can nowadays.

    1. So did I, Colette. I figured if it was in the realm of my abilities. Since I was single when I began my DIY ‘career’ there were some repairs I wouldn’t tackle for fear of breaking my neck (roofs etc.) but most things were fair game. Be glad you are able to do them. When I married again, I married a man who could do most everything. However, he is now 81 and I am 71 and there are so many things we are no longer able to do due to physical limitations. He is no longer allowed on tall ladders!
      So, to all the others out there who DIY, make certain when you are planning for your later years that you figure into the budget the cost of paying someone else for all the things you now do. You are going to be surprised at how the costs add up.

  38. We have been homeowners for almost 40 years now and have been forced to hire out for almost everything. We’ve gotten better in our abilities over the years but I know we have overpaid plenty. We finally came across a guy who is honest as the day is long and can do just about anything. He is a God send!
    When I’ve received a bid that just makes me scratch my head, the first thing I think is that they are just not interested and that I’m not as crazy stupid as they think! There’s always someone else that will want to do the job. It’s just a chore getting people to come out for the bid!

  39. Yes, ma’am! I’m currently going through a similar situation but with my HVAC system. I was told by this company (a very well respected company) that my 12 year old system should be sent to the great Beyond. Not worth fixing. I can understand if the cost to fix it was in the thousands but that’s not the case. Since they are looking out for my best interest, the quote for a 2 ton, 14 SEER, single stage unit is $9,500. By the way, they are using my existing duct system. WTH!!! I really don’t know how these people sleep at night. Needless to say, I was so livid I started researching HVAC systems so I could come a position of strength and not weakness. It was a blessing for me. By the way, I was quoted $650 to repair my unit. We are awaiting for the part to come in.

    1. Oh, yes, I had similar experience. In the UK we don’t have HVACs, the combi-boilers are the most popular system nowadays. When I bought my dilapidated house, I wanted the old boiler replaced. The biggest company British Gas had a summer sale, so I called them. Tow young men came dressed in suits and ties, with a laptop, measured the rooms, and quoted me £4000. The boilers with the required output cost in the range of £400-£800 in the DIY stores, so for a moment I thought they are offering to install some super-boiler or give me a life-time warranty. No, they said, the warranty is 1 year. When I asked them to explain how they calculated this price, provided that I can buy a £500 boiler with 5-year warranty, they cheerfully said that the computer did all the calculations and this is their SALE price.

      I had the job done for £1000 (including the boiler and other parts) by a local company.

  40. All of your, and my, related experiences speak to the fact that businesses like construction and car repair are not regulated…and the result is obvious. Plus, there is currently a dearth of construction expertise and suppliers know it. This is why so many contractors, et al, are either indifferent or just plain rude to prospects. The last laugh may be on them when more and more homeowners take on projects themselves…or the robots take these jobs over.

    As a number of you have noted, all these companies/individuals have to say is that they’re not interested in your project, that it’s too small, etc. We would all understand that, even while we’re unhappy about it. But price gouging only makes the other party look bad, and more likely to lose future bigger project business. It’s a very short-sighted business policy.

  41. I work with a lot of investors (I’m a Realtor®) who seem to get wild bids from time to time. That’s why I always suggest getting three bids for any work you want done. Normally, most will come in at a fairly reasonable rate, but there’s usually a few that are way, way out of line! I’ve always thought it was either (a) they’re truly awesome (or they think they are) and that’s their going rate or (b) they REALLY don’t want to do the job due to the size. It’s really nothing personal and it certainly doesn’t always mean that they want to rip you off.

  42. We wanted gutter shields for our new house, just on the back side where it is almost three stories high. Total house is 1800 sq. ft., so maybe a run of 48 ft. (?) and after hearing his sales pitch (which he basically read off the pages he was simultaneously showing us) he quotes $5800.00!!! We kindly said that is way more than we expected, as we are retired and on fixed income. He kept up the sales pitch, annoying my husband for not hearing what we said. We told him no thanks maybe six times. All of a sudden, he started reducing his quote, which REALLY annoyed us. Then asked what we THOUGHT it would cost…so I told him no more than $2500, to get him to leave. He said they couldn’t even cover materials for that, and I asked if they were made out of gold or something. LOL! He finally left! We still don’t have shields, just some cheap things we got at the home center that don’t really work well. I’m considering contacting This Old House to see if they can help us out! Ha!
    I agree with some comments here; they probably just didn’t want the job. They would need another small job nearby to fill the rest of the day for their laborers, to make it a profitable day for them. I would ask them to justify the quote compared to past work. ( politely, of course!) Couldn’t hurt, since you don’t want to hire them now.

    1. Marianne, as well as getting multiple quotes, I start off by using a review service such as Kudzu, Angie’s List or Yelp. Since these sites give you the details of the company as well as rating, customer reviews I find them invaluable as a starting point for selecting companies to contact. Also, some of these sites also have information on how to buy certain items or services or what to consider when you need… carpeting, electrical, water heater etc. and just about anything you may be considering.
      With a small job like yours, providing there are no unusual requirements, you might consider someone under the Handyman category. I have found that there are some very good, experienced people that may list their services under this category as well as under their area of expertise.

  43. Yes! I hired a handyman to completely gut and rebuild a bedroom- this included removing all drywall, adding insulation (the house is super old and faces the north- there has never been any insulation- he also had to remove shiplap to do this), rewire the electrical, reframe the closet, add a light in the closet and lightswitch, re-drywall, add decorative trim and paint. Oh- and also rebuild a closet in the adjoining bathroom. All of that was 2,000, which I thought highly reasonable.

    Asked him to come back and paint a ceiling and redo the trimwork to match that bedroom- FOUR THOUSAND DOLLAR QUOTE. The house is only 1700 sq. ft! AND, one room of that 1,700 sq ft was already done, and the kitchen and two bathrooms were not even going to be touched, and the largest room in the house was only going to the have the windows done. Also- most of the house doesn’t even have trim to remove. I was utterly shocked. I didn’t even respond to him until he messaged a few days later, when I told him I wasn’t prepared to pay that kind of money for that kind of job. I’ll never work with him again, which is a shame, because he did a great job.

  44. Sounds like they may have under-quoted for the first job and were trying to claw back some of that money on the second job 🙂

    How will you get the boards the correct size so that you have a level surface for the porch?

  45. Sound so like they didn’t want to do it. We’ve gotten ridiculous estimates before and that was the only conclusion we could draw when hungrier bidders were quoting earthling prices. One way we save money is to ask for a bid from our faves based on their down time and to be done then. It cuts it in half most of the time. And we are never in so much of a hurry we can’t save half.

  46. It doesn’t happen to just you, I got “ don’t want to bother” qoutes to replace my front porch 17 yrs ago. And after I got some wallpaper stripped I gave the company info to one of the docs I worked with and he in turn got an overblown “ address quote”…because my friend was in a high price neighborhood, the wallpaper guy figured he’d pad he bill.
    Both times are just so frustrating.
    No doubt you can handle this. You always pull it off.

  47. Well, typically, all the bids you get on jobs have ME yelling at the screen and stewing for days because they all seem so ridiculously cheap compared to what what it costs me to get work done where I live (in the PNW). *sigh* So I feel your pain.

    My most infuriating bid was for a 12’x12′ unfinished flat deck – no stairs, no railings, little to no grading of property needed, attached to house on one side. $12,000. Pffft.

    I added some cabinets in my kitchen once too. We’d had our house built new just a few years earlier, so I knew the brand of cabinets and finish and all that. So of course I wanted more of the same cabinets installed. Looked cabinet maker up online to find local dealers and there was only one listed. Took me two tries to even get them to bid my job. First guy told me the finish on the new ones wouldn’t match the old ones and basically hung up on me. Had to contact a manager to get a second salesman. He drew up the plans and gave me a quote of just over $5k. Out of desperation, I called a non-local dealer to find out if he’d be willing to drive out my way. He said he’s not too proud to take small jobs. Charged me catalog price on the cabinets ($800) and $500 for his day to drive them over and install them. LOVE my expanded kitchen, but still get slightly angry when I think about how I was treated with the first bid and how much I almost overpaid.

    I’ve got a few other stories and those experiences are the reason we DIY so much, and also why we live with so much undone that we don’t have the knowledge or time to DIY. Hard to trust after having bad work done. And hard to throw good money after bad.

    Can’t wait to see how you tackle those boards. I sure can’t understand how they can be taken apart and replaced, what with the porch beams under them and the shingles on top. But I know it must be possible somehow. Good luck!

    1. Agreed. I’ve been completely floored in the past at how cheaply Kristi can get work done. Here in New England, getting work done costs a fortune if you can actually find someone.

  48. An other factor that might add to the explanation of the high bid for the job: contractors prefer to buy the materials themselves because they make a discount on “contractor pricing” which isn’t passed to the client. In this case you also have the materials.

  49. I immediately thought that the last job they did for you might have been underpriced by them and they try and get the money now via this job… It’s twisted thinking on my part, I know, which has evolved by being frustrated by contractors time and again. I’m with evevrybody commenting above who ask for being told the truth – if the job is too small to be agreeable or their schedules are full with more lucrative jobs that would be nice to know so that we as people who need assistance then can plan differently! It’s sad that by this kind of behaviour you now lose a contractor whose previous work you are really happy with…

  50. Yup! Home Depot gave my husband and I a quote to reface our kitchen cabinets. We had 16 cabinet doors and 10 drawer fronts and boxes that we wanted made, along with new soft close hinges and soft close drawer slides. Their quote came in at about $19,000!!!!! Needless to say I did my own research in how much brand new cabinets would be and they would have been way lower than $19,000. I went even further and learned all I could about cabinet making thanks to Youtube, cabinetmaking books, and blogs like this. With A LOT of determination, I ended up making my own custom cabinet boxes, drawers, doors and drawer fronts for less than $3000 (soft close hinges, soft close drawer slides, and hardware included). I built 6 base cabinets, 6 wall cabinets, a 4’x8′ kitchen island base cabinet, a box to build-in my refrigerator, and a 80 inch high and 58 inch wide wall pantry for that price. it took a few months but I saved a TON in the long run! Still a little more than I should have spent due to some errors made along the way and having to purchase more materials. I also installed a new sink, dishwasher, and put in electric outlets on my island by myself. I basically renovated our whole kitchen for a fraction of the cost that we were quoted to reface it! But I feel that I learned such valuable skills and feel such a sense of pride and accomplishment when I look at my kitchen and that alone is priceless.

  51. I had some foundation work done once and got a quote from the “best” firm in town that ended up being double any other quote that I got. I expected foundation work to be expensive anyway but that quote was ridiculous. I ended up with another very reputable firm at half the price. Those things don’t really make me angry. I hope they are treating their people well and providing good health care and etc and that would hopefully be the reason for such vast discrepancies. I just took my money elsewhere.

    Also, I recently had a new poured concrete with brick trim front porch done, ripping out the previous one, and front porches are supposed to have a slight slope for water drainage. Mine is difficult to notice but it is slightly sloped.

  52. I’m experiencing the same pain today, except my husband and I have waited until we’re too old to be able to do it. I had a painter come to roll the popcorn ceiling just in the 3 front rooms of my house, which having openings to each other. The labor? $250. We thought that was a very reasonable price for 2 hours of work for 2 men (especially since we couldn’t do it ourselves.) We asked if we should have someone take the crown molding down first, as we would like to replace it. They said they would take it down in those 3 small rooms for $250. That was way over priced, but we let them do it. They were completely finished with everything in 4 hours. Then they said they would put the new crown molding back up if we wished. The price? $750. Needless to say, we don’t have crown molding back up yet. Still trying to get bids.

  53. I think more people need to call these people out when they give ridiculous prices. The tree people who quoted $10k, I would have said, “you must not get much work with those prices” or even, “well I’ll go with the other company, thank you for your time.” And this works too, “I have “x” for the budget take it or leave it.”
    I’ve also noticed, men tend to quote ridiculous prices and not listen as well to women, (just went through this today), than they do with men. The irony is, I know more about a lot of work than my husband does, so I make the decision. If they over bid, they don’t get my business.
    Also, I supposedly live in a poor community, but one would never know it on some of the bids I’ve been quoted.

  54. Hello are you remodeling in/around the Waco area? My husband and I have been remodeling my dad’s house that was built in 1910. I call it a money pit because of all the things that had to be fixed. I to am in the same boat of getting ridiculous quotes. I needed three trees cut down one that was a big pecan tree that was really close to the house, one that was over the neighbors driveway and another one that was in my dad’s driveway but leaning toward the house. We were quoted something like $3000. If I only wanted the big tree cut in the front of the house it was going to cost me 1800.00. I was able to get the guy that cut the yard ever two weeks to cut four trees total for 1200.00. The roof needed to be redone with new decking. I was quoted something like $11,000. I was able to find someone that did it for almost half the price with materials included. We have been working on this house for almost three years and I hope this year is the last year that we can finish the upgrades. New PEX plumbing, new electrical through out the house, new central air and heat, new room, sheetrock throughout the house over the shiplap. We will hire out someone to tap and float once my husband finish putting up the sheetrock and powerwash, sand and paint the outside of the house.

  55. My husband told me contractors bid too high on jobs they don’t want to do. Perhaps the job is too small, perhaps it involves too much time or whatever the may be. So, perhaps your contractor just didn’t want to do the job.

  56. I was told this little bit of wisdom from someone else but ill pass it on. With a construction project you only get 2 out of these 3 variables, Quality, Price or Speed. Pick which two you want at the cost of the third.

    I also like to use the rule of thumb where the “total” cost of the materials should roughly be the cost of labor. Doesn’t work for everything but should be close. in recent years labor has been increasing alot.

  57. I think you are getting high quotes not because you are a sucker, haha, not you Kristi, but because we are having a booming economy and it takes just as much time and stuff to go to a small job as a big job and so why not go to the big job, unless you make it worth my time….the results of a free economy, supply and demand.