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How much am I being overcharged? (COVID edition)

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[OP]
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May 30, 2005
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How much am I being overcharged? (COVID edition)

Hey folks, going through new home decor options right now and would like to get an idea of whether or not the prices I'm getting quoted are reasonable enough to go through with the builder.

The numbers to me and my past experience are all over the place. Some came in way lower than expected, some about right, and some much higher than expected. I assume COVID might have to do with some of it :lol:

Detached house, approx. 3000sqft. 10' ceilings on main, 9' on second.
  • 23x interior doors from 8' Colonial to 8' Carrara - $385 total
  • Baseboard from 4" Colonial 3/8" thick to 5-1/4", 5/8" chamfered, and from 2-3/4" Colonial casing to 3-1/2", 3/4" thick - $3901
  • Gas Rough-In with additional outlet for range top - $833
  • Hardwood flooring - approx. $17/sqft. to upgrade from carpeted areas, and $6.7/sqft. to upgrade from standard 3-1/2" hardwood areas. MSRP for the 5-1/4" hardwood selected is about $8.5/sqft.
  • Tiles - approx. $15-16/sqft. to upgrade from standard 13x13 tiles. MSRP for the tile we selected is about $5.5/sqft.
  • Additional GFI outlets $224, CAT6 with finisihed jack, $279
  • Kitchen/bathroom sink upgrades are approx. 20% more than retail in lieu of standard sinks
  • Cabinet hardware upgrade to 5" is approx $8 each in lieu of standard 4" hardware.
  • Smooth second floor ceiling - approx $3K
  • Waffle ceiling 17'x13.5' in lieu of existing coffered ceiling - $3600
  • Metal pickets from wood pickets, about 40 linear feet - $3433
  • 4x4 posts from 3x3 - $600 each
Last edited by Jon Lai on Sep 14th, 2021 11:02 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Jon Lai wrote: Hey folks, going through new home decor options right now and would like to get an idea of whether or not the prices I'm getting quoted are reasonable enough to go through with the builder.

The numbers to me and my past experience are all over the place. Some came in way lower than expected, some about right, and some much higher than expected. I assume COVID might have to do with some of it :lol:

Detached house, approx. 3000sqft.
  • 23x interior doors from 9' Colonial to 9' Carrara - $385

    $385 each?! I would think cheaper afterward, but I've never costed 9' interior doors. How tall are the ceilings, btw? 9' doors are very atypical in a house.
  • Baseboard from 4" Colonial 3/8" thick to 5-1/4", 5/8" chamfered, and from 2-3/4" Colonial casing to 3-1/2", 3/4" thick - $3901

    Definitely need taller baseboards. If your ceilings are 10' you should go even taller than 5 1/4" (even if they're 9' you should go taller too). I'd go 7 1/2"+. Taller base, wider casing.
  • Gas Rough-In with additional outlet for range top - $833

    Cheaper afterward, especially with open basement ceiling.
  • Hardwood flooring - approx. $17/sqft. to upgrade from carpeted areas, and $6.7/sqft. to upgrade from standard 3-1/2" hardwood areas. MSRP for the 5-1/4" hardwood selected is about $8.5/sqft.

    I'd do it. After removal and installation, you wouldn't save much doing it afterward, plus the added hassle.
  • Tiles - approx. $15-16/sqft. to upgrade from standard 13x13 tiles. MSRP for the tile we selected is about $5.5/sqft.

    Same as the hardwood.
  • Additional GFI outlets $224, CAT6 with finisihed jack, $279

    In the scheme of things, I'd have them do it.
  • Kitchen/bathroom sink upgrades are approx. 20% more than retail in lieu of standard sinks

    If they're doing counters, and if the sinks are undermounted, you don't really have a choice. Go for the largest, single bowl sink you can get for the kitchen.
  • Cabinet hardware upgrade to 5" is approx $8 each in lieu of standard 4" hardware.

    Big rip off, especially considering you already paid for the 4". But if you prefer a 5" option, might as well. Can't fix this afterward.
  • Smooth second floor ceiling - approx $3K

    Seems standard pricing.
  • Waffle ceiling 17'x13.5' in lieu of existing coffered ceiling - $3600

    If you prefer the look, not a crazy price.
  • Metal pickets from wood pickets, about 40 linear feet - $3433

    Ridiculously overpriced (almost $90 each!). But if metal is what you want, it won't be cheaper to do afterward. Any cheaper, classic, simple square wood picket designs you'd settle for?
  • 4x4 posts from 3x3 - $600 each

    Same as pickets.
"I'm a bit upset. I've been grab by the back without any alert and lubrification"
Lucky
[OP]
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May 30, 2005
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Thanks!
Toukolou wrote:
23x interior doors from 98' Colonial to 98' Carrara - $385

$385 each?! I would think cheaper afterward, but I've never costed 9' interior doors. How tall are the ceilings, btw? 9' doors are very atypical in a house. - Sorry, that's total. I've updated OP. Also I made a mistake, they're 8' doors, not 9 :(
Baseboard from 4" Colonial 3/8" thick to 5-1/4", 5/8" chamfered, and from 2-3/4" Colonial casing to 3-1/2", 3/4" thick - $3901

Definitely need taller baseboards. If your ceilings are 10' you should go even taller than 5 1/4" (even if they're 9' you should go taller too). I'd go 7 1/2"+. Taller base, wider casing.
Gas Rough-In with additional outlet for range top - $833

Cheaper afterward, especially with open basement ceiling.
Hardwood flooring - approx. $17/sqft. to upgrade from carpeted areas, and $6.7/sqft. to upgrade from standard 3-1/2" hardwood areas. MSRP for the 5-1/4" hardwood selected is about $8.5/sqft.

I'd do it. After removal and installation, you wouldn't save much doing it afterward, plus the added hassle. Isn't install + removal usually around $2.5/sqft? The upgrade from HW areas are a no-brainer, but the upgrade from carpeted areas seem a bit much, no?
Tiles - approx. $15-16/sqft. to upgrade from standard 13x13 tiles. MSRP for the tile we selected is about $5.5/sqft.

Same as the hardwood.
Additional GFI outlets $224, CAT6 with finisihed jack, $279

In the scheme of things, I'd have them do it.
Kitchen/bathroom sink upgrades are approx. 20% more than retail in lieu of standard sinks

If they're doing counters, and if the sinks are undermounted, you don't really have a choice. Go for the largest, single bowl sink you can get for the kitchen.
Cabinet hardware upgrade to 5" is approx $8 each in lieu of standard 4" hardware.

Big rip off, especially considering you already paid for the 4". But if you prefer a 5" option, might as well. Can't fix this afterward. I know, again one of those things that can't be changed :(
Smooth second floor ceiling - approx $3K

Seems standard pricing.
Waffle ceiling 17'x13.5' in lieu of existing coffered ceiling - $3600

If you prefer the look, not a crazy price.
Metal pickets from wood pickets, about 40 linear feet - $3433

Ridiculously overpriced (almost $90 each!). But if metal is what you want, it won't be cheaper to do afterward. Any cheaper, classic, simple square wood picket designs you'd settle for? What's the going price?
4x4 posts from 3x3 - $600 each

Same as pickets.
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https://www.discountmetalbalusters.ca/

A lot less than $90 each. I'd do the 4" posts, but I think you're stuck with the picket cost if you have your heart set on metal.

I'd do the doors if it's $385 all in, much nicer looking.

Cost of hardwood - not sure how much carpeted area you have vs. hardwood. If it's significant, I guess I would consider it if you can source the same floor on your own.
"I'm a bit upset. I've been grab by the back without any alert and lubrification"
Lucky
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May 23, 2006
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Guess it's a new built and you are considering upgrade?
Penalty Box
Jun 24, 2015
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a lot of those builder upgrades are not really essential things or important things to have, the most important thing should be being able to actually purchase a house this is a dream of many people but yeah all those others are wants not needs and can cost a pretty penny for most people. this is why most people leave their house the way they get it from the builder
Hi
[OP]
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Toukolou wrote: https://www.discountmetalbalusters.ca/

A lot less than $90 each. I'd do the 4" posts, but I think you're stuck with the picket cost if you have your heart set on metal.

I'd do the doors if it's $385 all in, much nicer looking.

Cost of hardwood - not sure how much carpeted area you have vs. hardwood. If it's significant, I guess I would consider it if you can source the same floor on your own.
How hard is it to DIY the metal posts? I know older homes have screws on the underside of the railing that makes it easy to remove, but I've noticed some newer homes have those holes on the top surface and plugged instead.

Edit: It's actually not $90 per - I said $3433 for 40 linear feet, I think the previous poster misunderstood. Isn't there at least 2 pickets per linear feet?
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Dec 21, 2020
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Jon Lai wrote: How hard is it to DIY the metal posts? I know older homes have screws on the underside of the railing that makes it easy to remove, but I've noticed some newer homes have those holes on the top surface and plugged instead.

Edit: It's actually not $90 per - I said $3433 for 40 linear feet, I think the previous poster misunderstood. Isn't there at least 2 pickets per linear feet?
Pickets must be no more than 4 inches apart (per code) so you're looking at 3 per foot (since the 4th is the 1st of the next foot). So about $30 per picket.
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Jun 26, 2019
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Ok, lets delve into this. Basically, you're probably being overcharged for everything, but that doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile paying them to do it to avoid hassle/ripping stuff out.

Detached house, approx. 3000sqft. 10' ceilings on main, 9' on second.
23x interior doors from 8' Colonial to 8' Carrara - $385 total

Minor cost, seems legit, if you want it its minimal so just do it.

Baseboard from 4" Colonial 3/8" thick to 5-1/4", 5/8" chamfered, and from 2-3/4" Colonial casing to 3-1/2", 3/4" thick - $3901

This one is harder to price, as not sure if they are using MDF or poplar. The poplar stuff I use would be around $3 for base and $2 for casing. Projecting the house footprint into a baseboard length Im guessing around 600 linear feet. Then you have about 40 ft per door, and 23 doors, which is 920 linear feet of casing. So for that price, Im gonna assume they using MDF, but by the time you are to rip it out, install it, paint it, etc, you're going to be safely over $3900. The materials I use would be over $3900 alone.

Gas Rough-In with additional outlet for range top - $833

Seems legit, gas would be $3-400 for a tech to come out, and an outlet on a dedicated circuit could be $200, or just $200 if its a one off. To DIY the outlet it by the book you would need to spend at least $80 on a permit.

Hardwood flooring - approx. $17/sqft. to upgrade from carpeted areas, and $6.7/sqft. to upgrade from standard 3-1/2" hardwood areas. MSRP for the 5-1/4" hardwood selected is about $8.5/sqft.

I assume this is engineered because 5-1/4 is on the wide side for hardwood unless you're going with R&Q. $6.70 is fair for the upgrade, since you're probably looking at going from a $3 hardwood to a $8.5 hardwood, so close enough. For the remainder, its overpriced, the install if you're going to nail and glue would be $12.50. So you're paying a bit of a premium. This said, paying for it to be removed would add a wee bit, but still cheaper to do it after the fact. That said, you need to be sure you can get a match. If you're not 100% sure you can get a match, or think the transitions are going to be crap, then probably want to consider upgrading the carpet or just keeping the carpet.

Tiles - approx. $15-16/sqft. to upgrade from standard 13x13 tiles. MSRP for the tile we selected is about $5.5/sqft.

For the $5.5/sqft tiles installed, assuming they are man made would be $5ish for labour and if they were natural stone, it would be closer to $10ish for labour. Assuming they are going to install tiles properly, its more of a pain to remove than other things, so probably not much or any cost savings after you pay for removals.

Additional GFI outlets $224, CAT6 with finisihed jack, $279

Generally speaking a new circuit is closer to $200 I've found, and an outlet installed can be closer to $70-100 on an existing circuit as part of a larger scope by a LEC. A lot of this depends on how hard it is to fish after the fact and how much damage will be done to the drywall.

Kitchen/bathroom sink upgrades are approx. 20% more than retail in lieu of standard sinks

Seems pretty straight forward if you want it.

Cabinet hardware upgrade to 5" is approx $8 each in lieu of standard 4" hardware.

Sure.

Smooth second floor ceiling - approx $3K

Assuming 1500sqft, and some really high places that are hard to reach over the stairs etc, and includes painting, dont think you'll do any better than $2/sqft.

Waffle ceiling 17'x13.5' in lieu of existing coffered ceiling - $3600

There are too many variables in the scope to tell if this is a good deal or not. Seems to be within an acceptable range?

Metal pickets from wood pickets, about 40 linear feet - $3433
4x4 posts from 3x3 - $600 each

Again, the scope of this is kinda hard to nail down. Oak balusters are like $12 per IIRC unfinished. Metal balusters have a huge range. Sounds like you're paying under $30 per, so it could make sense, also, if you go with wood and they just attach the wood balusters directly into the railing its more of a pain to remove and replace, so for $30 each seems legit.

$600 seems like a rip off, the material difference should be $100 at most and then a bit to coordinate. This said to get someone to come back and just replace your newel posts, you're again looking probably at this price for a small job.

So all in all, you're getting ripped off on all of these, but there may be no benefit or savings to doing it after the fact.
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Jon Lai wrote: How hard is it to DIY the metal posts? I know older homes have screws on the underside of the railing that makes it easy to remove, but I've noticed some newer homes have those holes on the top surface and plugged instead.

Edit: It's actually not $90 per - I said $3433 for 40 linear feet, I think the previous poster misunderstood. Isn't there at least 2 pickets per linear feet?
Sorry, misread, I saw it as 40 pickets.
"I'm a bit upset. I've been grab by the back without any alert and lubrification"
Lucky
[OP]
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Thanks @SubjectivelyObjective for your comments. It seems like most of the prices aren't too bad based on this. I'm ok with paying 10-20% more to do it with the builder with warranty and mortgage. I think the only thing I'm thinking of now is the hardwood.
SubjectivelyObjective wrote: Hardwood flooring - approx. $17/sqft. to upgrade from carpeted areas, and $6.7/sqft. to upgrade from standard 3-1/2" hardwood areas. MSRP for the 5-1/4" hardwood selected is about $8.5/sqft.

I assume this is engineered because 5-1/4 is on the wide side for hardwood unless you're going with R&Q. $6.70 is fair for the upgrade, since you're probably looking at going from a $3 hardwood to a $8.5 hardwood, so close enough. For the remainder, its overpriced, the install if you're going to nail and glue would be $12.50. So you're paying a bit of a premium. This said, paying for it to be removed would add a wee bit, but still cheaper to do it after the fact. That said, you need to be sure you can get a match. If you're not 100% sure you can get a match, or think the transitions are going to be crap, then probably want to consider upgrading the carpet or just keeping the carpet.
I know the exact brand/model so sourcing it shouldn't be an issue. Yes, it is engineered. The $12.50 you're quoting is including the $8.50 for the hardwood? So you're saying $4 for install?

5 years back, I did mine with standard 3.5" hardwood for $2.5/sqft. - not sure if it's changed or not, or if engineered is more expensive, but I was thinking it would be more like $11 versus $17-18, which is almost 50% more.

Transitions - 2 out of 4 rooms will be problematic as it will have a "butt joint" to the carpet. The other two rooms are "edge jointed". Is it feasible to remove a few planks so that it will look like it was all one-piece, if doing after the fact?
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Jon Lai wrote: I know the exact brand/model so sourcing it shouldn't be an issue. Yes, it is engineered. The $12.50 you're quoting is including the $8.50 for the hardwood? So you're saying $4 for install?

5 years back, I did mine with standard 3.5" hardwood for $2.5/sqft. - not sure if it's changed or not, or if engineered is more expensive, but I was thinking it would be more like $11 versus $17-18, which is almost 50% more.

Transitions - 2 out of 4 rooms will be problematic as it will have a "butt joint" to the carpet. The other two rooms are "edge jointed". Is it feasible to remove a few planks so that it will look like it was all one-piece, if doing after the fact?
Yes, that is correct, $8.50 for the wood, $2 for nailing, $2 for gluing. Although with 5 1/4" maybe you dont need to glue.

Skinny pieces are pretty cheap, I've seen them anywhere from $2-4/sqft. Engineered is more expensive for sure, and a lot depends on brand, veneer thickness, quality etc. When we were looking my wife picked out a R&Q engineered and I think the price was around $13/sqft, again best brand, most expensive wood. Good Engineered stuff will still easily run you at least $7/sqft, and probably more depending what you're looking at. In the end I installed R&Q White Oak which was unfinished, and that material cost was around $8-9/sqft, and then I had to finish it on top of that.

A good installer should be able to make all the transitions work, maybe you end up with a threshold where directions change.
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ANY builder upgrade is going to make you bend over, all depends on whether you want the hassle of doing renovations after moving into a new house. Time vs money, depends on which you have more of and what you can manage.
[OP]
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SubjectivelyObjective wrote: Yes, that is correct, $8.50 for the wood, $2 for nailing, $2 for gluing. Although with 5 1/4" maybe you dont need to glue.

Skinny pieces are pretty cheap, I've seen them anywhere from $2-4/sqft. Engineered is more expensive for sure, and a lot depends on brand, veneer thickness, quality etc. When we were looking my wife picked out a R&Q engineered and I think the price was around $13/sqft, again best brand, most expensive wood. Good Engineered stuff will still easily run you at least $7/sqft, and probably more depending what you're looking at. In the end I installed R&Q White Oak which was unfinished, and that material cost was around $8-9/sqft, and then I had to finish it on top of that.

A good installer should be able to make all the transitions work, maybe you end up with a threshold where directions change.
Thanks, so it looks like if glue is not needed, then my $11 vs $17-18 comparison is still valid. It's a $5K difference based on these numbers, so I'm tempted to do it later. Anything else I might be missing that could justify the $17-18?

All the others seem to be within the 20% premium that I'm comfortable with, so I'll probably proceed.
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I suggest you get the hardwood done with the builder

You will definitely pay more, but it will be worth it.

On a previous home, I let the builder do the carpet and I did the hardwood afterwards

1. I couldn’t find a match to the main floor and stairs. The hardwood on the second floor looked different
2. When they install carpet, they take less care to hang the doors, after I ripped out the carpet, I found the doors move freely on its own as the carpet is no longer there to stop it.

The only other suggestion I have is to install a conduit pipe from the attic to the basement in case you want to run Ethernet. That is definitely something you can do on your own instead of paying the outrageous prices for the builder to do it. Also, skip the central vacuum, cheaper to do that on your own.

Don’t waste money on fixture upgrades, do that on your own

The range hood. The builder will put in a 6” and I needed an 8”, I would ask for an 8” cut out if possible

Put gas in the back yard for BBQ and in the kitchen. I have a gas stove, but I would probably go with induction if I had to do it over again
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Jon Lai wrote: Thanks, so it looks like if glue is not needed, then my $11 vs $17-18 comparison is still valid. It's a $5K difference based on these numbers, so I'm tempted to do it later. Anything else I might be missing that could justify the $17-18?

All the others seem to be within the 20% premium that I'm comfortable with, so I'll probably proceed.
Not really, I think that's the general cost + demo and disposal. Don't know areas, but probably a weeks worth of work, but I assume you do it prior to moving in to avoid furniture moving and hassles.

One other thing to consider, is although you can do it with shoe molding, maybe its just best to remove the baseboard as well when you do this. Then that impacts if you do the baseboard for the rest of the house.

Just something else to consider, do you replace it the carpet with hardwood after the fact and slap on a shoe mold, or do you replace the baseboards at the same time. Might be easier to just do the shoe mold, as the rest of the house would already be the other molding.
[OP]
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SubjectivelyObjective wrote: Not really, I think that's the general cost + demo and disposal. Don't know areas, but probably a weeks worth of work, but I assume you do it prior to moving in to avoid furniture moving and hassles.

One other thing to consider, is although you can do it with shoe molding, maybe its just best to remove the baseboard as well when you do this. Then that impacts if you do the baseboard for the rest of the house.

Just something else to consider, do you replace it the carpet with hardwood after the fact and slap on a shoe mold, or do you replace the baseboards at the same time. Might be easier to just do the shoe mold, as the rest of the house would already be the other molding.
I would definitely just do the shoe moulding.
[OP]
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Gee wrote: I suggest you get the hardwood done with the builder

You will definitely pay more, but it will be worth it.

On a previous home, I let the builder do the carpet and I did the hardwood afterwards

1. I couldn’t find a match to the main floor and stairs. The hardwood on the second floor looked different
2. When they install carpet, they take less care to hang the doors, after I ripped out the carpet, I found the doors move freely on its own as the carpet is no longer there to stop it.

The only other suggestion I have is to install a conduit pipe from the attic to the basement in case you want to run Ethernet. That is definitely something you can do on your own instead of paying the outrageous prices for the builder to do it. Also, skip the central vacuum, cheaper to do that on your own.

Don’t waste money on fixture upgrades, do that on your own

The range hood. The builder will put in a 6” and I needed an 8”, I would ask for an 8” cut out if possible

Put gas in the back yard for BBQ and in the kitchen. I have a gas stove, but I would probably go with induction if I had to do it over again
Thanks. I know the exact brand/model so I think getting the match wouldn't be an issue.

Luckily my home comes with conduit as an included feature :) The decor consultant was surprised, but I showed her the feature list. :lol:

The only fixtures we're doing is because of the increased size of the door pulls due to the drilled holes. Not doing central vacuum.

The floating doors is an interesting point, although wouldn't that fall into the Tarion warranty? I don't think it's valid to say the carpet is there to hold it in place as a reason to deny a warranty claim.

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