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What is a reasonable contractor hourly rate?

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We had roof work done this past weekend due to a leak. When the contractor got up there, he realized his hypothesis for the leak was wrong which blew his estimate. I asked several times for a new estimate and he kept saying, "Don't worry, it won't be bad. I'll just charge you time and materials." I kept asking for a ballpark and he kept dodging the question. At this point, I am missing a chunk of shingles off my roof.


We get the bill and it is 6x the original estimate: $1780. He charged us $60/hr/person for labor and included the 2 hours he spent going out to get supplies. I choked.


Can anyone weigh in on the rate and situation? I realize CT is a little more expensive than TX, but good gravy!



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My husband is a licensed general contractor in California and has worked in construction for 30 years. He thinks you got "tooled". You repeatedly asked this guy for an estimate and he blew you off. Dh says you could have/should have pulled him off of the job right there and then. If CT has a state licensing board, you should file a complaint with them. Also, you could ask this contractor for a copy of his workman's comp insurance certificate. If he doesn't have workman's comp insurance, you should either refuse to pay or demand a significant discount. My husband thinks the only way that bill might be justified is if this contractor was paying high fees for the comp insurance. Either way $60/hr is very pricey.





contractor's usually charge by the square (one square = 100 sq/ft). They charge to take it off (per square) and also to put it back on. You signed off on the original estimate (which possibly was not based on hourly wages), but then he went back and changed it w/out you signing off on it. The finished estimate was significantly different. You have a legitimate complaint.

Edited by Michelle O. in MO
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My dh is a contractor. He doesn't charge by the hour, he charges by the contract amount. If it is over that amount he brings it up before doing the additional work.


Any work done by ripping into the structure of your house can be tricky. You never know what you'll find once you take out an item. He SHOULD have given you an estimate when you asked for one. He should have stated his rate when you asked.


My dh works his rate and supply runs into the contract amount. He IS working when he's running to Lowe's or the lumber yard, so yes, those are figured into the contract.


I don't know about the hourly rate in your area, but my dh would get NO work if he charged that much in our area. Our cost of living is much lower here though.

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You poor thing. . . Home repairs stink!


That's probably not unreasonable if you are in a higher-cost-of-living area. I have seen $150/hr for plumbers in NoVA. (Gasp.)


The guy might have been taking advantage of you. . . or just as likely, he just didn't think it was an expensive job (I'm sure it isn't compared to many others) and didn't think the price would be a big issue and was too lazy/sloppy to bother with taking the time to give you a decent estimate. . .


Remember that 'time & materials only' charge means he's not charging separately for his vehicles, gas, insurance, equipment, etc. Those overhead things get very high, so he obviously has to charge a higher rate for his time to make up for those elements w/o running bankrupt.


And, as a prior poster estimated the 90k/yr gross income. . . IMHO, $90k/yr as *gross* income for a contractor (esp. in a high COL area) seems modest. I'd imagine 30-50% of that disappears in overhead. . . Plus, as a small business owner he is running lots of risks and has downtime, etc when he can't bill at all (weather, etc.). . .


Next time, insist on rates/estimate/etc in writing before beginning work. Whether it is fair or not for your area would have been more apparent if you could have compared estimates from two or three reputable contractors. . . Lesson learned. Be thankful it is a $2000 job and not a $20,000 job.


I feel for you. . . really, I do. :grouphug:

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Grab a phone book, and call a few places. Let them know that you are double checking the going rate for a roofing job parts/labor, not wanting an estimate. I would avoid telling them the details, to keep from wasting the time of the other contractors. And yes, any time he spent planning/shopping can be in the labor fees. He was working during those hours.


If it is within 5-10 per hour, then I say it is fair. If it is more than that, you may have gotten taken but since you allowed him to continue without a revised bid, it really falls on you. What seems normal for a bid price (for a contractor), is rarely normal for a homeowner.


If you find out he is over charging you, then you may try to negotiate a lower price since he refused to give you a bid. But, I do think you are at his mercy.

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$60 an hour for 50 weeks a year and 30 hrs a week is $90,000 a year.


But it's $90,000 minus the cost of owning his own business.


For our area, $60/hour seems high, but I can't say for sure. I would say somewhere about $50/hour is reasonable. We just had our house re-sided by a contractor, and I don't remember how much he charged per hour. Your contractor should have been up front about the labor per hour charge. He also should have given you fair warning when he realized the the cost was going to be so much higher than the original estimate.

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You guys have been GREAT! You have all shared some great perspectives on the situation. I still think the guy acted pretty unethically. My husband approved the original job and estimate and then the contractor kept coming to me with changes with 3 kids at my feet - dh at work, in meetings, etc. I should have steered him to my dh but each time it was a minor change. It wasn't until minor change + minor change + minor change = BIG change that there was a problem but at this point I am missing a large chunk of my roof - what was I suppose to do, kick him out?


Of course my dh was pretty upset when he found out last night the guy was on our property and working without a shirt on (mom at home alone, 3 kids, low 80's? - no reason to have one's shirt off). I just don't think it appropriate but I have learned not to rock the boat in the middle of a job - you never know when someone is in the mood to be spiteful. The guy was referred to us from a new church we are trying and leads the men's ministry. What kind of ministry is that anyway?


We are frustrated for sure. Yep. I dropped the ball on parts of the job - so did he.


Thanks for everyone's help!


LB :confused:

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Our family's best friend just started a contracting business last spring, so while he was waiting for "real" clients we hired him to remodel a bathroom. He charged $45/hr for himself and his partners. The way he broke it down was that he was trying to average out the skilled labor (plumbing, electrical, etc.) at $60 with the less-skilled labor (demo, hauling) at ~$15/hr. I considered it fair. And I went into it knowing that our friendship is of more value to both of us than what he would charge and what I would spend, so we came out of the remodel with our friendship entirely intact.


He did provide me with a written bid, that completely outlined what the bid included and what it didn't. We did end up spending an additional $2200 on upgrading our electrical panel, but it had to be done. And E learned that it's another thing to check as part of the bidding process.


BTW, we are just north of Seattle.

Edited by lisabelle
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