Are these contractor estimates reasonable? Or wishful thinking?

LoPaySeptember 20, 2013

I got my labor estimate from the contractor and I'm hoping he misplaced some decimal points on his worksheet. I live in the upper Midwest, and we are not changing the footprint of the kitchen or moving any walls, windows or doors.

Total labor and materials not including the cabinets and counter tops material and install was over $33,000.
- Almost 6K for drywall and painting allowance - we should only have to take out a partial wall and patch the ceiling where the lights go in.
-Another 6K for electrical rough in, installation, supplies and fixtures allowance.
-Almost 4K for 30 feet of baseboard material and installation.
-Combined charges of $3400 for site cleaning, supervision, and debris removal.
-The cabinet and floor installation were reasonable at around 4K each.

I'm not into nickel and diming, but 6K for a dozen can lights, under counter lighting and putting in GFI outlets seems pretty high. Likewise with 4K for 30 feet of base boards.

The base boards estimate has to be a mistake, but would I get laughed at expecting the electrical and drywall/painting work to be at least half of the estimate?

Also some items were listed as allowance and some not. Thanks to some recent threads, I will make sure that every item's cost is defined as fixed or time and materials before work begins.

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How big is your kitchen?

I'm also in the upper Midwest (eastern North Dakota), and just finished a kitchen remodel. I acted as my own GC, and did my own painting, and tore out the old cabinets myself.

I haven't gotten the bill yet from the electrician, but the detailed bid was $2600 and nothing changed, so I'm expecting it to be close. We moved both the range and DW a foot, so those lines had to be moved. New GFCI outlets all around; one outlet had to be moved when we moved the range. Wired, purchased, and installed UCL. Added 2 outlets to a cabinet interior. Replaced standard wall phone jack with a powered jack. I did not replace any light fixtures (except UCL).

I had a local cabinet maker build and install, and his bill was for total project - cabinets, installation, crown molding, quarter round at the floor. $18,550. I don't know how much of that was for installation.

I have a friend who is a contractor; he and his son patched drywall after the electricians made their changes, and cut and framed a hole in the outside wall for the range hood vent, and installed that. I also had a few other places in the house where I needed drywall patching. Total cost $740 (but I might have gotten a friend discount - I didn't ask).

I took care of my own disposal, though we were able to re-use most of the old cabinets (between our garage and two neighbors), so that wasn't much.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 2:35PM
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The whole area is 15 x 30 which includes a EIK area. The actual area being improved is 15 x 12.

We don't have the skill set or motivation to do some of the work our selves. The only thing we want to lift is the pen to write the checks. I don't mind paying a fair price for good quality work. My folks were self employed in the trades, so I don't begrudge somebody making a living.

BTW your kitchen is awesome AnnKH.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 2:47PM
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Lighting is amazingly expensive. We bought 8 cans, 2 pendants, a fan light and LED undercabinet lights for approx. $2300. Our electrician was another $700+ with my husband being the guy crawling around the attic rafters dying of the heat to get those cans placed. It's better as a 2-person job. We also had a couple GFIs installed and a couple of outlets moved. GFIs are surprisingly expensive (around $28), but negligible compared to the rest of the costs. $700 was the family and friends deal because retrofitting those cans is a pain. If your GC is charging you 6K, I suspect that's not too far off the mark depending on where you live.

I don't understand the baseboard cost though. The base boards themselves are not particularly expensive, so most of the cost should be in the labor. I've done that labor and even if you include the time to go buy the boards, measure and cut all the pieces, paint before installing, and go back and patch and paint the nail holes, it's just not that much of a job, so I don't get it.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 2:58PM
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Sounds really high to me offhand. The linked site gives estimates for various aspects of work. I checked out a few for my area (it's zip code based so that helps) and they seemed in the ball park for what I'd expect. Maybe it can help you decide if the estimate is close or if they're trippin'.

Here is a link that might be useful: Homewyse

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 2:59PM
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Some of the quotes seem pretty high but you need to get more estimates for an apples to apples comparison on your exact project. If they're all about the same, you don't have much choice anyway.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 3:05PM
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My designer said that his quote was in line with other jobs he has done for her.

I'm hoping where things are quoted as an allowance that it will be a case of expect the worst, but in the end it will not be so bad.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 3:25PM
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The estimate sounds high to me as well. Have you gotten any other bids for comparison purposes?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 3:43PM
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I would get more estimates.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 3:51PM
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To echo...
* Don't settle for one estimate.
* The electrical sounds about right, even if it sounds high.
* The baseboards definitely sound very high. That's not a whole lot of space to be charging that much for a single room, where many of the walls will be cabinets (with their own set of toe kicks, valences, feet, etc). Even if that is for all the trim carpentry, that is high. There must be something else in that charge.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 7:15PM
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"I'm hoping where things are quoted as an allowance that it will be a case of expect the worst, but in the end it will not be so bad."

I would not leave this up to "hope" ... everything should be spelled out so that you know exactly what's what.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 7:37PM
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You should get three estimates if you can.

I live in an area where contracting rates are high, but to me your electrical estimate is about right. Drywall sounds high, based on your description of the work involved. The baseboard number is the one that seems the most off.

My floor estimate was half yours, and the floor guy had to manually build parquet from wood strips, which was very labor intensive.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 12:53AM
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I also live in the midwest and like you the only thing we wanted to lift was the pen to write checks for our kitchen remodel. I might just be extremely lucky but we had a contractor who didn't charge a dime over his estimate, had subs who who there exactly when he said they would be, had no issues with any work done and completed everything on schedule.
While it certainly isn't comparing apples to apples, I will list the things that were done just to give you some info. My contractor did not actually give us itemized costs but we were comfortable with that because he had done previous work for us and we had 110% confidence in him
Our bid included:
City permits
Demolition and removal of cabinets and drywall
Rough carpentry (shifting and reframing a doorway)
Disconnecting old wiring, installing wiring for 5 switches, 4 general outles, 2 island outles, dishwasher,disposal, microwave, ovens, cooktop and vent hood. Installing 6 recessed light, 3 pendant lights, 4 in cabinet lights and 2 chandeliers and under cabinet lights. (we did purchase our own lights.) and installing new control for sound system.
Rough and finish plumbing: relocating sink drains, vents and waterlines, relocating waterline for regrigerator, relocating gas line.
Furnished and installed sink, strainer basket, garbage disposal, disposal flange, air switch, soap dispenser, air gap, and faucet.
Drywalled, taped, finished and textured 3 wall and ceiling.
Installed vent pipe through the rough for vent hood and installed the chimney vent that we purchased.
Installed all appliances.
The total we paid was $17,175.00
This did not include our cabinets but our cabinet maker only charged $1,400 to deliver and install. It also did not include our countertops.
You may want to see if you can supply some of the material such as light and plumbing fixtures. You may be able to get them for less money.
And definitely get some more estimates.
Wish I could send my GC to you.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 1:49AM
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What material and profile are the baseboards? Makes a big difference. We tore out cove profile paint grade trim and replaced with clear vertical grain Douglas fir custom milled to match the rest of the house's original trim. Nearly 3k in material alone, then costs to finish (stain and poly) and then install which took a surprising amount of effort to scribe it all to the plaster walls. Have you had it quoted by more than one contractor? Just adding for perspective as we've found the details make a huge difference in scoping effort and costs for a given task.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 5:17AM
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Badgergirl that is amazing, considering what other people are being charged, including at my house.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 7:33AM
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Thanks for all the input.

Our baseboards are a ranch profile with a shoe molding. So nothing exotic there. I think there must have been a misunderstanding there.

I have asked for clarification, and help understanding what is driving the costs. Just waiting for an answer. I had another contractor ligned up, but he got an offer for a government job he couldn't pass up before he provide an actual quote. And since we had nothing signed, I couldn't blame him. He can still do the work, but won't be able to start until January, and I wanted to avoid having the work done during the winter for various reasons.

Both of the contractors are being referred by my designer, who is awesome. Even if these contractor's fees are a bit higher, it is important to me that they have a track record of working well together, and that they work to her known standards. However, a 6K allowance to patch drywall and paint seems high.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 10:22AM
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Sounds high to me, or else I got a super deal (with a very reliable contractors). $7,900 (not including cabinet, floor, or counter install) for a 12x18 kitchen, plus the vanity area of two baths: Remove: 8' of a load bearing wall, 2 pony walls, soffits in kitchen and baths, and relocate wiriing/lighting therein; build 2x6 pantry; permits; add/relocate can lights; add some outlets and UCL; plumbing for 6 sinks and faucets; install all appliances and hood insert; fix/add trim and drywall where needed. We are doing backsplash and painting ourselves and this doesn't include some additional tasks which we asked to be included. We live in Hilton Head - SC, a fairly pricey area.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 2:22PM
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