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Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

Posted by andrewm1 (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 13, 14 at 13:48

I got a bid from a local roofing company for the following repair on a 2000sf torch-down roof:

1) Power wash entire chimney.
2) Apply 1 scratch coat of mortar on chimney crown as needed between bricks.
3) Allow to dry and apply two coat of brick sealer.
4) Check entire roof and install torch down patches by chimney and lower skylight as needed.
5) Remove all equipment and debris promptly.

The estimate is for $750 before tax. I assumed the repair would take a good amount of time and the fee justifies the time spent.

The actual work took no more than 2 hours on site: about 1 hour of work by 2 people to power-wash and re-mortar the chimney, and apply two small (palm-sized) patches in a couple spots on roof. And about 30-45 min total of one guy coming out twice to reapply water sealant liquid to chimney (basically hand-spray it from a large jug).

I am wondering if the cost is reasonable for the work???

It basically adds up to about $350/hr for two guys for 1 hour, and $350 for less than 1 hour for one guy. The supplies were just the equipment they typically use and some mortar...

As a comparison, a few months earlier I had another person (also a contractor, but with smaller business) come out and spend about 7 hours changing the flashing on the chimney, for a total of $350 (roughly $40/hr after including some supplies).

To me, the comparison of the work suggests the mortar job was overbid by about 100% of what it reasonably might cost.

One additional issue is that the water that was already under the torch-down material was NOT dried as part of the repair, and continued to cause condensation on the ceiling sheetrock...

I am wondering what your thoughts are before I try to press the issue.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

It sounds like they did what they said they would do for the price they quoted.
Did they quote a high price - most likely, but I don't know all of the factors.
Did you get multiple quotes, at least three?
If they were not contracted to do the interior work, drying out insulation and sheet rock of the water that leaked in, I don't believe you have anything to discuss with them there.


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

How much were the other quotes? If you only got one quote, and went with them, then the price obviously seemed good to you. It doesn't mater how long the work actually takes. They are paid by the job, not by the hour.

BTW, spraying anything "waterproofing" onto brick does more harm than good. Brick is supposed to be porous.


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

This is a perfect example of why I NEVER break down jobs into labor and material. It is simply none of the customer's business how long it takes to meet the specifications of the contract.

Suppose everything went completely wrong and it took them a week. Would you be offering additional money because you felt sorry for them?

I didn't think so.


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

This is a perfect example of why I NEVER break down jobs into labor and material. It is simply none of the customer's business how long it takes to meet the specifications of the contract.

Suppose everything went completely wrong and it took them a week. Would you be offering additional money because you felt sorry for them?

I didn't think so.


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

Thank you for good feedback, I appreciate the different points of view (well, kinda different ;) and even an unequivocal statement with the word "NEVER" in it. I never see those anymore!

Re: "I didn't think so." - But I *would* offer them hot tea...and mittens...

Jokes aside, you have a good point re: time. I would actually be less concerned about the upper end of the estimate of time, but to have a basic idea of minimum time involved in accomplishing a job would be great to give the customer a clearer sense of *labor* involved, since from the customer perspective labor is really what they are paying for.

I know, I know, you have everything from office assistant to gas to insurance on the overhead side of things, but we don't see that, and don't really care because it does not *directly* contribute to the solution of the repair problem, whereas people doing stuff on the roof does. So from the customer's point of view, shelling out $750 for 2 hours of work can strike a chord.

Especially if the repair addressed only half of the issue, and did not address the water that was already collected under the torch down material, which continues to cause condensation..

Speaking of condensation - this is the major issue now, it seems. The contractor poked a small hole in the torch down material (bitumen?) and pressed on it gently, water came right out. I have no attic, there is 6 inches between roof and ceiling, filled with insulation (foam, I believe). My understanding is when you have a sealed space (now even more sealed!) with water already inside, it can't really dry - it will simply evaporate, and fall back out as condensate. Which is exactly what is causing the moisture buildup on the sheetrock under the insulation, and seeps through the paint and ruins the ceiling.

Do you have any suggestions on how to tackle the 'internal' moisture issue? I am guessing opening the roof up from the top and trying to dry it out? or trying to get in from the inside, removing insulation and drying it out? There is only a small opening in the ceiling barely enough to stick shoulders through, though...highly inconvenient. Any advice much appreciated..I am obviously dealing with a roof issue for the first time.


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

The only way I know of to remedy the wet insulation is to open up the area, from the roof or ceiling - your choice, and remove and replace the foam. It will not evaporate from an ventilated space, just sit and grow mold.


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

The drywall should have been removed first thing.


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

That's pretty much what I figure, now...a bit slow on the uptake with this kind of stuff. The problem was only half-fixed, apparently - they closed (hopefully) the entry for new water, but did nothing to what's already collected in the no man's land between the roof and the ceiling.. Well, they should be coming in sometime in the next few days to try to address this..with a fan or something... I expect there here must be a sizable area covered with mold on the flip side of the ceiling sheet rock. I am guessing the correct solution would involve ripping all that out, taking out the insulation, drying everything thoroughly, and re-doing the ceiling... I am just shocked the roofer didn't bother to even approach this issue when they fixed the roof. My expectation was, when I call someone to fix a leaking ceiling, they don't just do a half fix on top of the roof - they actually fix the problem so the problem doesn't exist. This hasn't happened, yet..more later.


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

Your expectations are completely incorrect. Roofers don't deal with drywall or insulation. That was your job to deal with.

A keyhole saw would have made quick work of a small access hole to determine the situation. Then when you determined it was wet, you should have enlarged the hole and started pulling insulation out. It's a super easy DIY job for you to tackle. Since it sounds like you are a first time homeowner, it's your chance to start your tool collection that every homeowner needs to be able to handle basic jobs.


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

Phew. So glad to be *completely* incorrect (not just mostly incorrect). It's been a really long time since I can remember being incorrect, and I was starting to worry. Anyway.

Hypothetically, if I am a lazy SOB and would rather be napping or something, can a roofing contractor take care of the insulation issue? Or who can? Honestly I would rather not breathe in black mold that grows on the flipside of the ceiling sheetrock and leave that to someone who is really into that kind of stuff...

This post was edited by andrewm1 on Fri, Feb 14, 14 at 17:48


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

the roofer isn't the one who 'is really into that kind of stuff'.

you hired the roofer to fix the roof leak.

what goes on below the roof & to the ceiling...
that is someone else.

you don't say what kind of foam.
there are two kinds.
open cell will let moisture migrate out
of the bottom of the foam...
t(oc is what we use in my hot humid climate)
not great if there isn't space between
the foam & the sheetrock.

closed cell will trap the
moisture between decking & foam.
this would have resulted in roof decking
under the membrane rot.
(cc is often used in cold climates)

first...stick your head & arm into the
access & look at the foam.
you'll have to answer the questions cause
we can't see from here.

is the foam on the roofline or the floor of the
"attic"?

then touch the foam does it have a hard
crust & is it very firm?
or does it not have a hard crust & is
somewhat softer?
the former is cc the latter oc foam.

what is your location?

pictures would be great.

any answers from me without knowing
the answers to the questions above
would be too ambiguous to be of any help.

best of luck.


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

If the insulation is foam, you will need to remove the insulation because it will trap water in between it and the drywall, rafters, etc... Sticking a fan and blowing air around will not solve the moisture problem.

If there is visible mold already, make sure you hire a certified remediation company. Most water damage restoration companies have certified mold remediation crews. They also will probably be able to handle any repairs. If you google "mold remediation companies" you will find them in your area. Make sure to ask if they are IICRC Certified and have the proper insurance to perform mold remediation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Important steps when hiring a contractor


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

"Gather names of remodeling contractors or handyman from friends and family. Online reviews should be avoided as they can be written by anyone including the contractor himself." (From the link above.)

This is false. www.homeadvisor requires reviewers to be the customers of its contractors. It is very difficult for a contractor to write his own reviews.

Plus, I'd disregard the advice from any link that said "any one" when they meant "anyone". Just like a hammer is part of nailing, proofreading is part of publishing.

This post was edited by Trebruchet on Sun, Mar 2, 14 at 11:27


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RE: Chimney crown re-mortar bid - overcharged?

"One additional issue is that the water that was already under the torch-down material was NOT dried as part of the repair, and continued to cause condensation on the ceiling sheetrock..."

"The contractor poked a small hole in the torch down material (bitumen?) and pressed on it gently, water came right out. "

It would certainly seem your roofing man dropped the ball and was not very responsible. Did you research how the repairs should be made? You'd think they should have addressed the water under the torch down before the repair. They should also know enough about roofing systems and water leaks to advise you needed to get to the trapped water in the insulation, that it would not evaporate, even if they don't handle that themselves. It is all part of the roof problem. Half-baked bandaid as you describe.

I had a roofer here who did advise and take care of the wet insulation and drywall repair after he fixed the leak.

At the very least he should have advised on the situation, if he had any expertise. I don't think I'd trust him with any more work due to his lax attitude about things.

Sounds like the brick sealing thing is something to look into also.

Yeah, the $750 sounds like an opportunistic rip off. Wait til you see your HVAC guy charging $600-$800, or more, an hour.


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