When a property owner calls for a sewer or water main repair estimate it is usually due to somewhat of an emergency situation or a concern for the near future. The property owner or property manager will most likely get a referral from a friend or go to the internet for review. Once he/she obtains information they will call and request a quote based on their needs.
These days a water main and sewer contractor can simply google any address and get a clear photo of what the outside of the house looked like when the google picture was taken. It is best practice for both the homeowner and the contractor to make a site visit and analyze all details required to resolve the issue, and at this point present a viable solution.
This becomes a problem for some water main and sewer contractors if they are too busy to send an estimator or if they are a small company and simply do not have the staff to review all estimate requests in person.
The risk of quoting over the phone
The first potential problem is that there is only so much info one can obtain after reviewing an old picture from google maps. There are many additional variables to consider when pricing a water line or sewer replacement which can only be obtained by an onsite visit.
Important factors to consider
- How deep is the pipe/how deep will the repair require the contractor to dig? Will he require a backhoe on site to dig or can the repair be completed by hand?
- Where does the pipe exit the home? This will have an impact on where the contractor has to dig and present any potential challenges.
- Is there a special connection required to re-connect back to the existing house piping
- Is there any updated info since the point of the google maps picture? Was a tree planted? Telephone pole installed etc.
- Size of existing piping – does the home require a larger size pipe or is the existing sufficient?
- Detailed measurements including the required linear footage of material. It is important to understand exactly how much material is required to keep the cost down and the estimate in-line with market value
These are just a few factors to consider and should give you an idea on the importance of meeting an estimator in person. It is all important to see how the company presents themselves. Believe it or not, this is usually a strong indicator on how the company operates.
If the contractor is not aware of the above it is easy for he/she to say “I never made a site visit and was not clear on the property layout, there will be an additional fee to complete the work”. Most homeowners want to be aware of all upfront costs and would like to avoid these type of surprises.