How reasonable is this? (contracting estimate)

My husband and I are in the process of buying a house. It is a lovely house but was built in 1918 and has some necessary repairs that must be done once we purchase it so we are getting estimates from contractors to determine how much we will need to pay the contractors (and adjust our offer on the house accordingly.) We just got back the first estimate and it looks wildly overinflated to me, but I’m not a professional contractor so I might just be underestimating the actual costs for these things.

This estimate says, among other things, it will cost $375 to repair a single loose board at the top of our stairs. It also says that it would cost $1800 to replace the back door and $11,000 to redo the driveway, which would involve repitching it to make sure water runs away from our foundation instead of towards it.

While I’m no contractor I’ve certainly installed a door before. I can’t imagine paying almost $2,000 to install a freaking door! Is that a reasonable price? When tossing around numbers before we spoke with the contractor a friend of ours said they had their driveway redone for about $5,000 and though I expected to pay a bit more than that because it needs to be angled away from the house I didn’t expect to get a number that is more than double that!

We’ve got 2 more contractors coming out tomorrow to look at the property and give us an estimate but now I’m terrified that they are going to give us similar numbers and we are going to have to walk away from this house. All told the first estimate came to $42,000 and he forgot to include a necessary bit of masonry work so I figure it is going to be at least $50,000 based on his numbers.

How accurate are these figures? I’m afraid…this doesn’t even include the hideously ugly bathroom that will need to be redone! :eek:

That seems very high to me. We had 2 doors replaced last year, including both new doors, one screen door and labour for around 1500. They even had to rebuild the frame on the back door. Now we weren’t going for a period door, our house is only 60 yrs old so that might do it. The driveway number seems way over too.

Those numbers seem overinflated, but don’t be afraid to wave them in the seller’s face if you think it’ll get you a lower price. :smiley:

If the house really is that old the door sizes are probably not standard. That means custom made doors. I had to have them done on my house and it was quite a pretty penny.

If your driveway is long it’ll increase the cost. Changing the pitch is problematic and can significantly increase the cost. If you have concrete that needs to be torn out and hauled away that’s a big job too. Without more deatil I can’t say if it’s a fair price, but I’m certainly not shocked at the number.


The bank has been very clear that they won’t give an additional loan for the work. At most we can push for the seller to put money in escrow and pay more on our mortgage, but even then I can’t see them being willing to come down in price another $50,000 for repairs. If that is the case then we start our search all over again because we don’t have an extra 50k sitting around after buying the house with which to make repairs.

It seems high. But I can think of a reason a contractor would give you these prices. First, it’s an old house, and experience has taught me that repairs on old houses can get more complicated that you initially think. They may be preparing to deal with replacing a lot of old wood that is no longer sound, and having to rip out and replace more material just to change a piece even when there are no other problems. They may be honest and just plan to do a quality job.

As for the driveway, how long is it? That’s a lot to resurface an existing driveway, even with a pitch change (which isn’t the only way to keep water away from the foundation either).

It sounds high for the quantity of work you’re looking to have done. If it was just a board or something, I could agree with a seemingly high price since you’re still mobilizing a guy or guys for a couple hours with travel, etc. But it sounds as though they’d be putting days into the whole job so that’s not an excuse here.

Is the house under contract? That is, do you have a signed Purchase & Sale agreement that says you will pay $X to buy the house? If so, does the contract allow you to walk away with your deposit money if you can’t afford the repairs?

We’ve signed a single agreement sheet but no contract and we haven’t made a deposit yet. We have a real estate attorney and she is guiding us through the process so I’m not worried about any of that, just the extensive cost of repairs.