$5,000 to replace 10ft of pipe, True Story!

What can a homeowner reasonably expect to pay for the replacement of sewer pipes outside the home?
Wednesday we were called out to a home to relocate a drain in a bathroom to make room for a new vanity cabinet. The reason for the cabinet replacement was because the toilet overflowed and flooded the bathroom. Company A diagnosed the main sewer line to the septic tank had plugged. 3 days, 10 feet of pipe and $5,000 later the customer could flush their toilets again. Now a restoration company is working on cleaning up the bathroom.

So what is a fair and reasonable price for this type of repair and why did it take 3 days?

There are several factors involved when replacing a residential drain or sewer pipe. The depth and total length of the line, grade or slope, utilities such as electric, gas, water, phone, and cable, rocky ground, landscaping, trees and roots, accessibility for power equipment or hand digging, condition and type of existing sewer piping, and lastly the replacement piping.

A few rules and guidelines:

1) Get 3 quotes! Not only do we want to know pricing but scope of work. Is the suggested repair necessary or the best option for your situation?

2) Are there any reasons the price might change?

3) Warranty

4) What is included or excluded, such as landscape materials, trees, rocks, trench settling, delays due to mislocated lines, or non marked utilities, protection of property from heavy equipment, etc…

5) Manhours involved, project timeline, and scope of work. Will the drains be usable during this time?

6) Pets

7) If it is not in writing it was never was said!

When evaluating the quotes the highest bid might be the best option, and sometimes the lowest bid may be the best option. Ask the contractor to explain the price. If they are low look for reasons the contractor might be saving money, are they cutting corners, better training, tools and equipment, lower company overhead. If the contractor is higher is it including more work, warranty, quality of products, service, higher company overhead, higher labor rates, etc…

For example:

Company A – 3 days, $5,000 for 10 feet of piping. Including cable, camera with pipe locate, excavation, and dirt replacement. Warranty unknown

Company B – 2 days, $2,100 – $3,100, 10 ft of piping. Clear line with cable or remove blockage first day for functional toilets, camera with locate pipe, landscape rock removed and set aside, excavation, dirt replaced and compacted every 12”, landscape graded and rock replaced. Warranty 10 years

What makes company A so much higher in price? High Overhead; $15,000 – $20,000 or more per month for advertising, large trucks with inventory, uniforms, 24hr service, free estimates, high warranty recall rate, and lots of print brochures and paperwork.

Why is company B so inexpensive? Small business with low overhead; small truck with low inventory, word of mouth or free advertising, no uniforms, no fancy paperwork, limited 24hr service, very low warranty recall rate, charges a reasonable service fee including travel and estimate, highly trained and skilled technician.

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