Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Boiler replacement estimate

Options
jerrykane123
jerrykane123 Member Posts: 4

My contractor provided an estimate for my gas boiler (one pipe) as a lump sum, even though he lists components of the estimate. Is it a common practice to not provide the customer with a breakdown of costs? Even the cost of the new boiler is not provided, although the brand is identified.

Thank you.

Comments

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,866
    edited June 7
    Options

    Personally I wouldn't need detailed pricing but I would want to know how the boiler was sized and that it will be piped as per the manufacturers specifications.

    I'd probably talk to them beforehand to hear how they plan on piping it but I'd also want it in writing.

    This is far more important than you'd think and it's much easier to make sure it's done right the first time then trying to get them to fix it. Especially if the boiler is twice the size it should be and that's quite common. Bigger is not better.

    Did they do a radiator survey?

    I'm assuming this is one pipe steam?

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • yellowdog
    yellowdog Member Posts: 159
    Options

    @jerrykane123 Why do you want an itemized proposal? What are you looking for in it? You are entering an agreement to put in a certain product at a specified cost. Why does it matter to you how the cost was calculated?

    Hot_water_fanGroundUp
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,764
    Options

    @jerrykane123

    I agree with what @ChrisJ posted. Nothing wrong with asking for more specifics but the information in @ChrisJ post is the meat and potatoes.

    If the installers quote says "install boiler" $000000 the that should be a red flag.

    you want to know

    when he will install it?

    what he is installing?

    is he getting town permits (if they are required) and are those costs included?

    is he insured?

    how was the boiler sized (if based off the old boiler that is a red flag)

    what is his warranty or guarantee.?

    will he install the piping in accordance with the mfg requirements (very important especially for steam)?

    will he skim boiler (steam)?

    is he removing the old boiler?

    Any asbestos removal?

    if it is steam you want all steam piping done with black pipe

    copper ok only for condensate wet returns.

    reggi
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,899
    Options

    The cost breakdown isn’t relevant to a homeowner. It’s also just …made up.

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,554
    Options

    Line item bids can be hideously misleading, and also can be a source of significant cost overruns. For instance, suppose there is an item in there for connecting the new boiler to the old piping, and it's very low — but the contractor knows that it's going to be much more complicated than he lets on. Change order time — and you can get hit with a huge bill.

    It's always amusing to see the various items, but… what you need to know is that you will get a finished, professionally installed, fully functioning product for X dollars.

    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • jerrykane123
    jerrykane123 Member Posts: 4
    Options

    Thanks for all the comments. Further to your posts:
    1. Yes, one pipe system
    2 Radiator inventory completed.
    3 I did not request a detailed/cost breakdown. My post asked if a lump sum estimate was common practice for a costly, (often) complex heating system. I now have my answer.
    4. I posted the question since the written estimate is 3 pages long covering over 20 items, very helpful to the customer. There is a cost column down the right side but it’s blank, except for the total.
    5. I think it’s reasonable for a consumer to request, at minimum, some detail on the unit and install costs, if nothing else than to compare other estimates - apples to apples?

  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,676
    Options

    It's only apples to apples if they're quoting the same equipment installed in the same place with the same accessories. Mostly, you'll be comparing apples to peaches, because you want the installer to use what he is best at & not what the other guys are using, but occasionally you'll be comparing apples to avocados.

  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,915
    Options

    I give a price for the entire job.
    you want it broken down call someone else. I don’t have the time to get envolved with who’s responsible for what aspect on small jobs!

    STEAM DOCTORSuperTechGroundUp
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,022
    Options

    You can compare estimates, without a breakdown. You are certainly entitled to ask, but most contractors, including myself, would probably decline. What matters, is what's included in the job. Is he only replacing boiler? Returns? Vents? Auto feeder..... It does not really matter what his profit margin is, which is really what you are asking for,when you ask how much he is charging for the materials

    jringel
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,899
    Options

    Lump sum pricing is typical in almost every industry. The times when Unit Price makes sense is when an engineer is designing something then contractors bid on it and then someone watches and measures behind the contractor. Which is obviously time intensive and specialized. Entirely not worth it for this kind of purchase, just like you wouldn’t ask for an ingredient by ingredient breakdown for a lasagna.

    gyrfalcon
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,764
    Options

    @jerrykane123

    If this contractor gave you a 3 page written estimate for the job and did a radiator survey your probably fine……..give him the job. Most will not do half of that. Just confirm he will pipe the boiler, skim the boiler pipe it in accordance with the MFG instructions in steel pipe

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,382
    Options

    references, pictures of some of his past installation and customer testimonials are also worth asking for.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,941
    Options

    Every time somebody asks me for a parts breakdown, they are the type of people who will take that breakdown as a material list and order their own parts online or whatever so they can get the job done cheaper. I didn't spend 20 years learning my trade just to give free information to a cheapskate. I understand wanting to know what you're getting, but that does not include a complete parts list. For example:

    "Weil McLain CGI-4 natural gas boiler, installed to accommodate a 3 zone hot water baseboard system using Taco Sentry zone valves with Grundfos ECM circulator. Includes startup w/ combustion analysis and (3) Honeywell T4 digital thermostats."

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    DerheatmeisterPC7060SuperTech
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,734
    edited June 9
    Options

    It's common, it's not the 1980s anymore. If you feel like you insist on a breakdown, move on to the next guy. And hope he's still in business when you need some service. When I had PV solar installed, I just 'didn't want to know'. It was easier that way.

    "5. I think it’s reasonable for a consumer to request, at minimum, some
    detail on the unit and install costs, if nothing else than to compare
    other estimates - apples to apples?"

    No one disagrees, but human nature (consumers) tend to cherry pick a line that may seem to be high, and question it. But not question a line that is much lower than the other guy's quote. It's a slippery rope, very few personalities can pull this off (question pricing) without getting prickly.

    Some contractors weigh heavily on labor, others weigh in on marking up the materials, a lot. Why not just focus on the bottom line?

    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    gary@wilsonph.com
    IronmanSTEAM DOCTOR
  • mikedo
    mikedo Member Posts: 203
    Options

    ground up thats what this website is about now giving free advice to people just using us !

    ethicalpaul
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,553
    Options

    There’s no “us” and ”them” here, @mikedo. It’s what we’ve been doing for 27 years. It’s a community, made up of all sorts. Everyone is welcome here. It’s WE.

    Retired and loving it.
    ChrisJSTEAM DOCTORethicalpaulSuperTech
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,866
    Options

    Genuinely curious,
    What causes this increased overhead vs the other trades?

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,390
    Options

    Why overhead is high compared to other trades.

    Seasonality of business.

    Utilization and Economies of Scale. 2000 available annual hours vs on the jobsite doing an install. Boilers and especially Steam are a niche field. Corporate Furnaces-R-Us cant do it right because too many one-off situations that require years of experience (which Furnaces-R-Us wont pay for). So Mom and Pop. Or just Pop. But Pop will have lower utilization compared to other trades.

    Cost of Service van, tools, service parts.

    High Insurance Costs - Lack of tort reform.

    Wear and tear on body. Friend of mine is a retired carpenter. He said if he were to do it all over again he would have been an electrician.

    Hey, at least you guys don't need much for a brick and mortar storefront.

    I DIY.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,676
    Options

    The buy-in for this trade is significantly higher than others. You can completely wire a house with a couple hundred dollars in hand tools, but that same amount will only get you started in HVAC tools. Also, I suspect that the engineering pre-work (heat loss, etc.) is higher in this trade than others.

  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,941
    edited June 10
    Options

    I said information- not advice. Big difference. Helping somebody out is one thing, but spending my time and money to give them an exact material list and piping diagram only because they're too cheap to hire a real professional is not something I will participate in. Explaining why something doesn't work or making suggestions on how to make something better is simply the friendly thing to do; not everything needs to be about business.

  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,390
    Options

    Probably would have to bill job-site hours at $400 (more in high cost of living areas) to make a living.

    Many customers would balk at that, hence the parts markup game.

    I DIY.
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,401
    Options

    Nah nah, You all are going about this the wrong way. You gotta go all in, with that line item breakdown you need to list your overhead but break that down too. Insurance on the truck, monthly payment for the truck, your business insurance/bond, continuing education, work phone, secretary, accountants, other employees, so on and so forth... Make that line item list 10 miles long. Lol

    WMno57
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,941
    Options

    Is it, though? If one isn't doing every aspect of the trade, tools can be quite reasonable and overhead quite low. When I first started, I was using my already owned power tools and basic hand tools. A hundred dollars on a torch and used pipe wrenches, I was doing hydronics out of my F150. Even today, licensing/insurance aside, the tool cost to get started in basic plumbing or heating could be well under $1000. There is a contractor local to me here who has a brake in his basement for bending tin, but everything else he owns fits in the back seat of his pickup and he's been working like that for 30 years.

    Matt_67