Cost Guides Methodology

FIXR's cost guides are a rigorous, must-have reference for homeowners and potential home buyers. These guides help to assign ballpark figures on home remodeling projects whose costs are not typically standardized (i.e., Cost to install new carpeting vs Cost to remodel a bathroom).

Motivation

Since 2008, FIXR's mission has been to make the tedious process of home remodeling easier. We strive to provide the best information for consumers and we pride ourselves on being:

  • Unbiased: FIXR is a vendor-independent resource. We do not accept outside advertising.
  • Complete: Our cost guides provide breakdowns by labor and materials, upgrades, comparisons, and alternatives for hundreds of remodeling projects.
  • Accurate: Cost information is extracted from a wide range of reputable resources and databases, and prices are frequently updated due to market variations.

Sources

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized books and websites, published cost studies, U.S. associations, websites and reports from the U.S. government, literature reviews of DIY websites, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. Here is a full list of all the sources:

Books

  • National Building Cost Manual, 40th ed., Ed. by Ben Moselle (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2016).
  • National Construction Estimator, 64th ed., Ed. by Richard Pray (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2016).
  • National Electrical Estimator, Ed. by Mark C. Tyler (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2016).
  • National Home Improvement Estimator, Ed. by Ray F. Hicks (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2016).
  • National Painting Cost Estimator, Ed. by Dennis D. Gleason (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2016).
  • National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator, Ed. by James A. Thomson (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2016).
  • National Renovation & Insurance Repair Estimator, Ed. by Jonathan Russell (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2016).
  • Albert S. Paxton. National Repair & Remodeling Estimator, Ed. by Joshua Paxton (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2016).
  • Basic Plumbing with Illustrations, Rev. ed. by Howard C. Massey (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2011).
  • Max Schwartz. Basic Engineering for Builders (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 1993).
  • Lynn Underwood. Building Code Compliance for Contractors and Inspectors (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2010).
  • Ken Nolan. Concrete Construction (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2010).
  • Ed Sarviel, A.S.P.E. Construction Estimating Reference Data (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2014).
  • Richard J. Langedyk. Estimating & Bidding for Builders and Remodelers (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2008).
  • Estimating Electrical Construction, Rev. ed. by Mark C. Tyler (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2011).
  • Deryl Burch. Estimating Excavation, Rev. ed. by Dan Atcheson (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2013).
  • W. P. Jackson. Estimating Home Building Costs, Rev. ed. by Brian E. P. Beeston (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2010).

Association

Government websites

Vendor Websites

Specialized Websites

Apart from the corresponding sources already cited, FIXR's cost guides are also based on some specialized websites from professionals in the home improvement industry. For example, our "Swimming Pool Maintenance" cost guide contains not only information extracted from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals and the corresponding craftsman books, but it also comes from a variety of different sources, which include:

If you are interested in knowing all the sources for a specific guide, send us an email at costguides@fixr.com and we will send you the complete list.

Contractors

Our network of 90,000+ local contractors provides a unique source of information for our cost guides. Our research team and uses their feedback to improve the quality of our cost guides.

When contacting contractors and local service providers to ask about prices, we pick cities where the cost of services are in line with the U.S. national average such as:

Ithaca, NY; Sarasota, FL; Cincinnati, OH; Dayton, OH; Iowa City, IA; Montgomery, AL; Tyler, TX; Houston, TX; Rochester, NY; Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Tulsa, OK; Durham, NC; Marietta, GA; and Raleigh, NC.

This means that we do not show local costs for sites which are significantly more expensive, e.g., New York City or Boston, or cheaper, e.g., Omaha, NE or Harlingen, TX, than the US national average.

Labor Cost by City

Inside our cost guides, you will find a section called "Labor cost by city and zip code: Compared to national average". FIXR's cost guides include all associated fees in the labor cost, i.e., basic wages, employer's contribution to welfare and vacation funds, and all tax and insurance charges. However, these costs vary depending on the city and zip code, which is why we use a reliable source containing an accurate estimate of how much the labor costs vary in each city.

  • National Construction Estimator, 64th ed., Ed. by Richard Pray (Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company, 2016).

The "Area Modification Factors" table within this estimator contains an alphabetized list of states. For each state, the first three digits of all the state's zip codes are listed and assigned a representative city. Some cities are so large they span multiple three-digit zips. For example, Aurora, IL is associated with 605, and Chicago is associated with 606-608. Percentages are based on the average of all data points in the table. Factors listed for each state are the average of all data points in that state. Figures for three-digit zips are the average of all five-digit zips in that area.

Cost Researchers

Fixr employs a team of cost researchers who are subjected to a rigorous selection process where they prove not only their experience in the home remodeling industry and research and writing skills. Most have worked as contractors, designers, and architects for years.

Our research team works with a team of editors at FIXR to help them with the research process, and their work is reviewed before being edited by our proofreaders at the end. During the research process, the researchers use a wide variety of professional resources, which are listed above.

Writing Style Guidelines

In order to make the information easier to read for our users, there are some style guidelines that must be followed in each cost guide:

  • Square feet = sq.ft.
  • $1,000 (comma for 4-digit figures or more)
  • Dimensions in ft.:
  • 10 ft. = 10' or 10 feet, depending on context
  • 10 ft. x 12 ft. = 10' x 12'
  • Avoid using (&), instead use (and).
  • Don't use (-) to separate sentences or give examples, use a comma instead.
  • If a sentence after a colon starts in a different line/paragraph or it's a list with bullets, always start it with a capital letter.
  • Avoid using (/) to divide the price and the object, e.g., $50/hr, use per or any other word necessary. However, it is okay to use it when writing in a table.
  • Avoid using (;), instead use a period or comma.
  • Bold should not be used on words that are a hyperlink.
  • $.50 = $0.50 If less than $1, use $0.00.
  • Prices should always be bold. The related object should be bold if it is not hyperlinked, e.g., the cost of hiring an electrician ranges from $65 to $85 per hour.
  • Don't use a space between prices and (-), e.g., $65-$85 or measurements 10'x10'.

Feedback and questions

Our cost guides include a question asking if the guide is helpful. If you need to know something that it is not included in any of our guides, please click our "No" button and tell us what the guide is lacking. We will update the guide as soon as we have the answer to your question.

Many contractors and users have already used this tool to let us know what they think, and together we are improving our services. Thank you.