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View Full Version : Does this price seem a little high for a small kitchen?



DIYNeophyte
11-24-2008, 09:08 AM
I have a small kitchen where I want to redo the floor in ceramic tile. A guy came in and gave me a price of $600 for 90 sq. ft. (I buy the tile, mastic and grout.) He added another $50 when he realized the subfloor and vinyl tile has to come up first.

So for a small kitchen floor, does $650 in labor and subfloor seem reasonable? I'm in the NJ area.

Thanks for any opinions.

jadnashua
11-24-2008, 09:32 AM
Depends, it could be too cheap. Before you even consider whether tile is possible, you need to know the floor construction - joist sizes, length, species type, and spacing. Then, you need to know what the subflooring is. Many floors just aren't capable of supporting tile. Whether yours can is still an open question. For tiling help, suggest you check out www.johnbridge.com.

statjunk
11-24-2008, 11:04 AM
Sounds very cheap to me. I'd be wary.

Tom

Dunbar Plumbing
11-24-2008, 04:17 PM
Yeah no kidding.


Pulling up all that
subfloor and vinyl tile for only $50? That's a great deal of the work sometimes.

krow
11-24-2008, 07:13 PM
If anything, this is underpriced.

Do it quickly before he changes his mind

Redwood
11-24-2008, 07:52 PM
And beware when he just stops showing up in the middle of the job.

hj
11-25-2008, 06:00 AM
for 90 square feet, he shouldn't have to leave.

Cookie
11-25-2008, 06:48 AM
I have a small kitchen where I want to redo the floor in ceramic tile. A guy came in and gave me a price of $600 for 90 sq. ft. (I buy the tile, mastic and grout.) He added another $50 when he realized the subfloor and vinyl tile has to come up first.

So for a small kitchen floor, does $650 in labor and subfloor seem reasonable? I'm in the NJ area.

Thanks for any opinions.

Personally, I would want to see pictures of his other work or talk to a couple of his customers if possible, that way I could better judge his level of expertise. How else would you know? References.

sjsmithjr
11-25-2008, 09:37 AM
The warning signs:

1) Didn't realize that the vinyl and subfloor need to come up.
2) Wants to use mastic in lieu of thinset.

Where did you find this guy? Tile can look great right after installation and be a mangled, cracked, nightmare a few weeks or months down the road. Try to find a couple more guys to give you quote. A good place to get a referral or two if you don't know anyone is to ask around at a couple of tile suppliers (not boutiques or big box stores).

Thatguy
11-25-2008, 02:12 PM
Try to peek inside this at Border's
http://www.amazon.com/RSMeans-Building-Construction-Cost-Means/dp/0876290209/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1227651480&sr=8-1
They have tables to correct for ZIPcode.

geniescience
11-26-2008, 07:30 AM
The warning signs:
1) Didn't realize that the vinyl and subfloor need to come up.
2) Wants to use mastic in lieu of thinset.
... a mangled, cracked, nightmare a few weeks or months down the road.... Agree. A remote possibility is that the guy is young, hasn't been in business for himself for long, doesn't know his costs, figures it's a day's work, just figured he should add more for removing stuff that you could do, saw you had "just the right kind of tile", and a size that can be laid fast, and he knew about the subfloor and as it happens it is so strong that its flex will crack no tiles later... All floors have some give. Are you on concrete? Tile size too small or large makes installation harder. Tiles with certain edges take little time or effort (wide enough grout lines compensate for size and squareness irregularities), tiles with other kinds of edges take a lot of time and effort; it depends on how precise the dimensions are, whether the tile is rectified, etc.

This may be more than you wanted to know.

It is possible that this will turn out fine for you. It all depends.

Good luck!

David

frenchie
11-26-2008, 02:19 PM
I have a small kitchen where I want to redo the floor in ceramic tile. A guy came in and gave me a price of $600 for 90 sq. ft. (I buy the tile, mastic and grout.) He added another $50 when he realized the subfloor and vinyl tile has to come up first.

So for a small kitchen floor, does $650 in labor and subfloor seem reasonable? I'm in the NJ area.

Thanks for any opinions.

No, it doesn't sound reasonable at all - as everyone pointed out, it seems alarmingly low - low enough that the guy's probably a hack.

jar546
11-26-2008, 05:33 PM
Could be low depending on where you live. A two day job should be more expensive than that.

See some of his work, talk to previous clients. Occasionally you find good guys that work for less but most of the time this is a red flag.

master plumber mark
11-26-2008, 06:11 PM
Most likely he will want at least half his
money up front given to him in "good faith" in cash...

he will claim that he needs to check on some emergency at home and will be back in a half an hour to start....

and that will be the last you ever see of him... and your $300..

kingsotall
11-26-2008, 06:50 PM
Seems some people prefer the hacks by the amount they are (or aren't for that matter) willing to spend on refurbs and retrofits.

Dunbar Plumbing
11-26-2008, 11:59 PM
This guy got all these responses, he was here yesterday checking given his statistics of "last online" and figures he's getting a hell of deal getting this guy at that price.


Otherwise there'd be more than just a drive-by post.


But of course, now that I have pointed out this inconsistency, I'll put on waders cuz the **** will be thick telling us they didn't use the contractor.



Riiiiiiiiiight, and I'm not balding with gray hair.

DIYNeophyte
12-05-2008, 07:22 PM
This guy got all these responses, he was here yesterday checking given his statistics of "last online" and figures he's getting a hell of deal getting this guy at that price.


Otherwise there'd be more than just a drive-by post.


But of course, now that I have pointed out this inconsistency, I'll put on waders cuz the **** will be thick telling us they didn't use the contractor.



Riiiiiiiiiight, and I'm not balding with gray hair.

Yeah, and Merry Christmas to you, too.

I've actually been running around, getting quotes on a bunch of work my house needs done, trying to stretch the few dollars I've got, and trying to balance my desires with what's necessary.

I didn't reply because I was thinking about all the comments I received, and since I admit I don't know anything about tiling, I had a lot to consider.

Today doing what's necessary included hiring a guy (not the tile guy) who cut down and cut up a small tree, trimmed all my shrubs and hedges, hung two enormous drapery rods, resecured a shelf, and charged me $60.

That $60 probably makes you want to pass out, but that's what he charged, and he did a fine job.

I've been holding off on the kitchen tile job, but not because the guy isn't good. He did some other work for me, and that was perfect and the price was inexpensive. You might think $650 is cheap; I guess I shouldn't tell you that he was going to install the tiles on the diagonal, and was going to repair a ceiling crack the right way (so it didn't reappear.) All that was included in the $650 price, and he would be bringing his partner to help him - so that makes it REALLY cheap!

You know, not everyone is trying to take money out of your pocket. Some people really can't afford prices of the experts (which is why this is a DIY forum.) And I'd be DIYing it myself, if I wasn't still recovering from massive surgery.

Or my husband would be DIYing it, but unfortunately he died two years ago so everything around this house is on my shoulders.

There are people who really can't afford high prices, and they still need to get things done. What would you suggest? Me robbing a bank or just giving up and committing suicide?

Let me state that I truly appreciate the posts of everyone on here, even the ones that were something less than nice. I posted to get information and opinions, and I certainly got that.

I just think it wouldn't kill you to not automatically jump to the conclusion that the person who posted was a cheapskate who wanted to get a jerk to throw down anything and brag about the "bargain" he got.

I'm not a man, I have no one to show me how to do things, so I do what I think is the smart thing and post on forums where people who know more than I are kind enough to respond with their advice.

There's no reason to be a jerk about it. If you want to think I'm a miserable cheapskate looking to fleece a professional by hiring some cheap fly-by-night crook so I can brag about a bargain, then have at it.

You'd be wrong, but I bet that wouldn't be the first time for you.

DIYNeophyte
12-05-2008, 07:27 PM
Most likely he will want at least half his
money up front given to him in "good faith" in cash...


He actually did some other work for me, and no, he didn't ask for any money up front. In fact, I never had anyone ever ask me for money upfront, except for a licensed electrician. He came back twice, and he had me give him money upfront initially and then again for the second spate of work - and he didn't come back for three weeks.

DIYNeophyte
12-05-2008, 07:37 PM
Agree. A remote possibility is that the guy is young, hasn't been in business for himself for long, doesn't know his costs, figures it's a day's work, just figured he should add more for removing stuff that you could do, saw you had "just the right kind of tile", and a size that can be laid fast, and he knew about the subfloor and as it happens it is so strong that its flex will crack no tiles later...

You're right on almost all counts. He is a young guy, has a partner who is another young guy, and it looks like they're trying to start their own business after having worked for other contractors. In my neck of the woods I think a lot of guys who had a ton of work even six months ago are panicking because the phone calls are drying up (I've found this to be true for almost everyone I've talked to in a bunch of different contracting professions.)

I should mention he did some other work for me, and did a fine job.


All floors have some give. Are you on concrete?

No, it's a kitchen floor. What's there now is one-sheet vinyl glued to a subfloor that was installed over the original tiles (whatever they installed 50 years ago, which is the age of this house.) Those tiles are glued on the hardwood floor.

The subfloor under the sheet vinyl seems to be squeaky plywood, and that wasn't done well at all. I asked him to take up the subfloor and put down a new one, but the right one so it's the right substrate for tile, and oh yeah, so it doesn't squeak like the freaking plywood!


Tile size too small or large makes installation harder. Tiles with certain edges take little time or effort (wide enough grout lines compensate for size and squareness irregularities), tiles with other kinds of edges take a lot of time and effort;

I made a few visits to tile stores after talking to this guy, and I was looking at a 12 or 13" ceramic tile. Something simple; I also said I wanted narrow grout lines, leaving the space up to him.


it depends on how precise the dimensions are, whether the tile is rectified, etc.

This may be more than you wanted to know.

lol, maybe - what IS rectified tile? the tiles I've been looking at are porcelain ceramic. There doesn't seem to be anything overly unique about them (maybe a little heavier than other ceramic tiles), but then, I'm a neophyte, so any info you can give is gratefully received!


It is possible that this will turn out fine for you. It all depends.

Good luck!

David

Thank you, David; I appreciate your advice and your comments.

jadnashua
12-05-2008, 09:11 PM
A rectified tile is one that has the size made very consistent from one to another along with being square. Tile can vary depending on the amount of water, the length of drying, the pressure of the machine that makes it, the temperature of the kiln where it is fired, and other factors. This can make laying tile with small grout lines nearly impossible, since none of the lines would be straight and even with tile that varied a lot...when faced with tile that varies, you need to use a larger grout line which helps to hide the differences. Rectified tile are either sorted or ground to consisten sizes (and thickness), and can be set with very small grout lines to approach the look of a solid slab. You always need to have a grout line, or crud will accumulate in the joints. It also strengthens the installation significantly.

Depending on where you live, the cost of living will dictate what people are willing and able to work for. NYC would be a lot different than say Silver City, NM. For many places, the price quoted would be very low. Sometimes you get a bargain. From here, it's really hard to tell...it's your call.

dx
12-06-2008, 08:31 AM
No offense, DYINeo, but unfortunately there is no free lunch for HOs. As a general contractor, I can tell you it is highly unlikely that you will find a very good AND very cheap tile installer or any other qualified tradesman. Here is why:

Those of us who are contractors are always looking for subs who are a little cheaper, but still good tradespeople. It is our business to find these guys and almost all of them come soliciting us for work in the first place. That's because we can give them steady work, not just one job.

So there is a market for these services and competition all around. You are competing with pros for the services of these people. Let's just say if this guy was really good and really cheap, he'd be already doing plenty of work for GCs in the area. Ask him for references from GCs.

We do understand that there are many people who can't afford certain services, but that doesn't change our cost of doing business. Many of us do a certain amount of charity pro bono work every year for the truly needy, but other than that our prices reflect our cost and not the customer's ability to pay.

As others have said, there are several hints in your story to raise doubts about this person's competence. If your state requires licensing for tile and stone installation, make sure they are licensed. And go look at installations they have done more than 3 years ago to see how they hold up.

D.Smith
12-06-2008, 12:43 PM
My only concern is if he has insurance? Is it up to date? He should be able to provide you with a binder dated from his agent. If he cant, run.......

Around here a liscense/insured handy man makes 50 plus per hour. Me personally I wouldnt work at that rate but I guess each to his own.

Cookie
12-06-2008, 01:45 PM
I am sorry things are so hard for you right now, I know to even say, things will get better is not so either. I lost my husband 3 years ago, so I do know how hard it is especially for you right now. I hope things work out for you, and I apologize for some comments that should had been nicer to you. Just because it is the right thing to do. I hope you will stop back and let us know how the floor is going. I would love to hear from you again. Take care and good luck to you, Cookie

Maybe, when all finished you could even post a picture.
It sounds like you got a good guy there to help you with the kitchen floor, I would go for it. Diagonal sounds nice, too.

sjsmithjr
12-07-2008, 09:00 AM
I had to think about the OP's position a bit as my original concerns had nothing to do with price but rather an apparent lack of knowledge on the installers part. No offense meant. Where I live, I can get an experienced, independent tile installer and their helper for about $30/hour. They would be unlicensed and uninsured. I would in effect be acting as my own contractor, and if I wished to ensure that I was getting a quality job and that no corners are cut, then I have to have working knowledge of tile installation even if I lack the necessary skills and tools. DIY contractor can be a tough job.

The inherent risks in hiring unlicensed and uninsured workers should be obvious. If not, those questions can be asked here as well.

I would encourage DIYNeophyte to learn as much as possible about tile installation if she is going to hire out the work herself to an independent. Prior to initiating the work, she should go over the steps involved and if there are any apparent deviations in materials or technique, she should engage the advice of those with experience prior to proceeding. It will be necessary for her to oversee the work as it progresses. That way she can ensure that in addition to best price she is also having the job done right.

A book from the local library might be a good place to start. You can pick up the "lingo", which goes a long way towards helping someone out, and learn the basic steps involved. A forum like this can then serve you quite well.

You may have a lot to learn. Are you ready to get started?