Do Contractors Charge to Estimate a Job?

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Subject: Unaware of estimate charge

A company came out to do an appliance repair estimate. I was not made aware of the charge or asked to sign any paperwork. I received a bill in the mail a month later. Is it legal for them to charge me for the estimate when they did not make me aware of or have any paperwork signed


Subject: Consulting and trip fees

Nothing in this world is free except the grace of God. A professional's time is a real business cost. (Im sure Mark would not like to work for free. He expects to get paid for his time at work.) A Real professional has figured the costs of doing business, which include his time and the equipment used to consult with his clients. That's why they charge the client what they do. What Doctor, Auto repair shop or computer repair does their estimates for free?


Subject: Diagnostic/Trip Fees

I find these fees to be highly usurious. It's ridiculous that a contractor charges anywhere from $49 - $89 just to get in their truck and come to my house.

If you can't figure out your cost-of-doing-business with an hourly rate and free in-home estimates than you're in the wrong business.


Subject: Diagnostic/Trip Fees

Dear sir,
Any reputable company would not charge you to get in their truck and go to your house. That is unheard of. BUT If you are asking for a written detailed estimate for your project then yes they should charge a fee for that. It is time consuming service they are providing. The actual time spent at your property will have to be longer , they have to take more detailed measurements and notes. The company I work for, our estimators set their appointments back to back. An estimator may have 7-15 people he has to see within a 9-10 hour day {common with our company}. Also the hourly rate, there is no hourly rate, like it or not our estimates figure in our costs such as advertising, insurance,overhead, and all of our expenses as well. Do you go to Mcdonalds and ask them what the cost of their bun is, tomatoes,pickles,ketchup etc? If you want an hourly rate then pick up some of the guys that stand in the home depot parking lot.
also, we offer free VERBAL estimates, if your happy with the price then we detail everything on a contract. If you need a written estimate before signing a contract, then we do charge a fee for that. Especially if your dealing with an insurance claim where we will be bombarded with paperwork from your insurance company before you hire us.Some of these policies are in place because we have done a ton of leg and paper work for customers for their claims and once they receive their check they have an uncle, cousin, friend of a friend do the work and we are out a lot of time.Tha'ts why contractors charge for written estimates. It is a lot more than just jumping in our trucks to give you a price.


Subject: Trip/Dispatch Fees

There are many reasons a company may charge a fee to just show up. The best contractors understand that not everyone is their customer and they use the Trip Fee to qualify the customer. Smart contractors don't want to spend their time giving estimates to people who are shopping for the best deal (buying on price alone), or people who will get multiple companies to come out just so they can figure out how to do it themselves, in other word they could care less about wasting or stealing a companies valuable time. Most consumers don't understand the real cost of running a home service business, I'm not talking about the one man company operating from his home who does not have health insurance or even liability insurance much less offer a warranty for his work. A full service home service company has expense just like for example an attorneys office has. Consider when the technician shows up at your door he is bringing with him the entire cost of doing business. Some of these cost are: marketing, insurance, building rent, vehicle expense, office support staff, employee benefits, employee training, and the list goes on and on. So just ask yourself, when you hire someone to come into your home what value are you getting and what are you willing to pay for it. One final thought, most good service companies will waive the trip fee once they know you are a great customer, in fact they will go out of there way to give you superior service.


Subject: Free estimated cost someone

If I charged someone for 4 hours of labor to do 1.5 hours of work that would be ridiculous right?

Wrong. If I give 2 FREE estimates to people that do not hire me and my 3rd service related customer hires me, that is exactly what would happen. That is how a contractor giving FREE estimates does it. They pass the buck

The average commission for a roof salesman giving FREE complete roof estimates about $560 (7% of gross). $560 for someone to measure your roof and show samples (2-4 hours) does not sound free to me

Wake up!!!

I am a top rated service provider because my service company does not give FREE estimates on service. We charges service charge for service calls. Because we are one of few full service roofing, siding and tin smith shops, we also have a sales division that does give FREE Complete Roof estimates (when the customer knows what they need)

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.