ConstructionProposal....Fair Price?!

25 Replies

Hi everyone!

At one of my APT buildings, I have a 2nd story catwalk that needs replaced. The previous owner used NON-Pressure treated plywood and laid some regular carpet down on top of it. Problem is the carpet above created excess moisture with the below plywood which within one year caused the wood to be warped. In some parts the catwalk had completely rotted away due to excess moisture.

I got a proposal to replace the existing catwalk with pressure treated plywood & to lay down indoor / outdoor carpet above the pressure treated plywood.

I am supplying ALL the materials but he has given me a proposal to do the work @ $2700.00

The materials are estimated at around $1500 give or take.

Take a look at the catwalk (it's fairly large_105 ft by 5ft wide)

Let me know your initial thoughts on the job/price. Suggestions WELCOME!!

Really hard to know if that is a good price, because there are so many variables that are going to be location specific.  I would consider getting another quote.  But I will also say that I don't think it is crazy out-of-line with what I would expect to pay here.

But location is so important.  In some cases, the permit which is included with cost $5, and in some places, $500.  In some places the dumpster will be $120, and in others $400.

We also cannot tell how the work was done, how hard it is to access, etc.  It is going to take a lot more work to tear it out if it was screwed in place and had construction adhesive applied than if it was nailed down, for example.

I have not idea about the cost in your area. I would say it's a really good price if I was getting it here. One concern I would have would be added costs due to items not in the current scope. What if more wood is rotted? What if there is water damage to the building? What about the joists? My rule of thumb is half the cost is in labor so you are below that so it sounds good but like I said, I'm not in your area.

@Bill S.  

@Richard C.  

I appreciate the response. I am new to the construction side of real estate & was just getting others opinion on what they thought of the proposal.

The joists seem to be decent, we may have to replace a few where the majority of the rainfall effected the area. We are replacing the WHOLE decking with pressure treated plywood. Essentially (27) sheets of pressure treated 3/4" 4x8 plywood.

I usually use a very rough estimate of the labor will cost the same as the materials. In this scenario you are pretty close. Again, that is an extremely rough estimate. How about get a few quotes to see what the bids are.

Funny, I met with another contractor and here's how it went...

ME: What's the most "economical" way to handle this job?


ME: "Excuse me sir, I used the word economical, not cheap. Why are you getting all hot & heavy?"

Contractor: "uhhhhh I'm sorry"

Moral of the story, dealing with certain contractors is the worst! I never did hear back from him as I'm sure he felt he shot himself in the foot.

Justifying my case, I had a contractor who suggested putting down composite decking. Sure if it was my house I would however for my purposes it would be too expensive and not worth the money.

The price quoted seems alright but quotes are free. I'd get 3 and ask them to quote the best solution for long term durability. Composite decking might not be a bad idea. It's supposed to last something like 75 years if it's installed correctly. Outdoor carpet will need to be replaced in 5 or 10 if it's a  high traffic area. 


One important thing is the job warranty; ask for that to be on the repairs contract before you sign it. You can also ask for referrals to see how responsible and professional they are. Wish you luck!


Originally posted by @Daniel Vazquez:


One important thing is the job warranty; ask for that to be on the repairs contract before you sign it. You can also ask for referrals to see how responsible and professional they are. Wish you luck!


If the customer is supplying materials ,  what its there to warranty .


Have him break out his $2,700 quote. That will clarify his idea of the scope of work as well. He should be able to show his labor rate, manhours, equipment (manlift - if needed), and disposal costs. You'll have a better idea once you see that.  

@Nik S.  

  don't put carpet back over wood  it will just do the exact same thing that has happened here.

On one of my commercial buildings we used a poly type sealer and that worked very well have to patch it now and again but it kept the wood underneath from getting water issues

and we are in Oregon were water water everywhere for months on end.

For my area this looks like a very fair, almost too fair price.

I have to be honest with you though. I absolutely hate these cat-walk balconies. They are a pain to maintain. A problem I have run into twice is that there is not proper pitch to the balcony which leads to water working its way towards the exterior cladding of the building where your units are.

If you are looking for more of a long term fix what I found works well is replacing the subfloor by gluing and screwing the sheathing down and rather than putting down carpet I called out my masonry contractor to do an overlay. Thus, allowing for proper pitch and grade as well as making for a surface that will never need to be replaced in the future. A non-slip additive was then put into the seal coat to reduce slip hazard. Worked well but came at a premium which was justified as it would no longer require regular maintenance.

Hopefully your structure is in good shape! Lets see some before and after photos once you pull the trigger.

Thanks everyone!!

Right now I am stuck at the pressure treated plywood looking so ugly! What to go over top to protect ?

A) I need it to cosmetically look better (not laying down outdoor carpet), then what to apply (detailed product info?)

B) What can I apply to have a more water resistant finish/non slip effect?


I did sign the contract at $2700 & I provide the materials per his needs. Initially he asked $2880 but I have to give a certain % to my PM team for all their "efforts". So essentially I am paying $2880 but took my PM fee out of the contractors quote.

We plan to start next week! Not a large project obviously but looking for a solid finish. I have no potential planned exit date so longevity is in scope. I'll prob keep these units for 7-10 years my guess. 

I'm a contractor in the northeast (high cost of living) and that estimate doesn't sound too bad but I would get a couple more quotes.  That work is pretty basic and even the low bidder can't screw it up too bad. 

Hey @Nik S.  ,

I think PT boards, like on a deck, look a lot better than 4x8 sheets of PT plywood.  The PT boards will run you about $1.44 per square foot for 8-footers and $1.83 for 16-footers.  The PT plywood will run you about $1.33 per square foot.  Composite decking boards will cost you about $3.30 per square foot but you'll never have to do anything to them.  For your 525 square feet of decking to replace, you are looking at $732 for PT plywood, $1006 for 16-foot PT decking and $1,815 for 16-foot composite decking (decking materials only).  The labor to install the boards versus the plywood may or may not be a bit more, but it's worth it since the appearance is much better.  Since you are only planning on keeping the units 7-10 years, you could get away with the PT boards versus the composite.  You could roll on a solid color stain pretty quickly every couple of years to keep it from rotting and keep it looking nice.  If it were my project, I would spend the extra $1,100 for the composite decking and never worry about it again.    

Carpet over plywood creates a moisture issue. Pt plywood will delaminate and buckle if subject to moisture on a regular basis. Consider a roof coat material like Gaco between ply and carpet. This will end moisture issue. Also, make sure plywood is screwed down or at least use ring shanked nails.

@Stephen Doyon  

Composite decking would be great however my contractor mentioned there will still be that small gap in between each board. Meaning, when it rains there will still be moisture/water that will seep through to the first floor aluminum soffits.  So we focused on using boards to avoid the gaps.

I am checking out the PT boards right now.

@Stephen Doyon  

Composite makes sense & I don't mind the extra expense in materials as it will help provide longevity. However, do you foresee the "gap" between the pieces to cause extensive damage overtime to the joists/below soffits etc...???

The PT deck boards will give you the same gap as the composite boards.  The PT plywood alone would be tough to keep water-tight.  Do you know how your contractor was planning on keeping the PT plywood solution water-tight?  Do you have any pictures of the underside?

Stephen: I don't have any pics of the underside yet. As far as I am concerned there really is no planned action for keeping the PT plywood water-tight. He suggests we just lay outdoor carpet over it. Stating that the PT plywood will have a much longer durability as opposed to the previous NON PT plywood. I am wasting materials by getting PT Plywood but it is cheaper (not too worried about material cost in this situation, more for a better outcome).

However, he stated we needed to avoid the "gap" so water doesn't permeate through the bottom level. 

He mentioned using PT MARINE boards, are you referering to the same thing? He's mentioning these different materials but stresses on the fact that we don't the water going through.

Somewhat frustrated as PT plywood with outdoor carpet over it may not be the best economical situation...

Just to add another point of view after 10 years in the construction industry.  All of the information you are being given above looks great.  There is a concrete product out there that is specifically designed for second story balconies/walk ways.  It is light, water tight and can have some added design options.  My specialty is materials and my experience says that some extra expense up front for quality saves tons of hassle and money in the long run.

Just my point of view.

@Nik S.  

Are you using the outdoor carpet for aesthetic reasons or does it serve another purpose?  As other posters have mentioned, I think you will still have trouble with rot as the wood underneath the outdoor carpet will never dry out.  PT will help it last longer, but it will still rot at an accelerated pace. 

If you need a water-tight solution, do a google search for "dry deck".   Using PT or composite boards with another system like those found in the search results is probably the best way to go.  It gives you finite control of the water, too. 

@Stephen Doyon  

I am using the carpet for aesthetic reasons only, no other purpose! 

So basically plan was to tentatively use PT plywood, a sealer such as "Rust-oleum" & nail down some outdoor carpet to cover the ugly plywood.

Dry Deck sounds like a solid option to remediate excess water moisture. 

At this point, looks as if all the wood is ordered & I need to come up with something solid to cover the wood that won't accelerate the rotting process. 

@Stephen Doyon  

After 3 days of construction, the job is done! The job ended up costing me a lot more money (more materials + labor), final bill to come! I appreciate all the advice and help!

The job turned out FANTASTIC. I wasn't able to be on site but I sent of my guys to view it mid-construction but he forgot to take pics of the rotting wood on the catwalk, go figure! He said about HALF of the wood above was rotted. Almost ALL the joists were perfectly fine, we ended up replacing 1 or 2. You can see the sides where the wood has rotted. Keep in mind half of the catwalk had dips and holes due to water damage. Other half probably could have been left alone BUT while I have the guys tearing it out might as well do the whole thing so we start fresh!

We did replace the lower level soffits and it looks amazing as well (that was part of the extra labor / materials), I will update you all in my cost.

Looks like half of the catwalk was rotted. I am assuming it was just the way the weather had effected it. Below the rotted wood was the excess water that ruined the soffit below. The job was extremely professional & I am happy so far! Like I said, I haven't seen it in person but pics don't lie & hopefully my PM doesn't either :-)

I did use 3/4" treated plywood and very solid outdoor carpet with a 5 year warranty! It looks brand new and hoping it will hold up for some years!

Any questions feel free to ask. Like I said, my material cost and labor cost went up a bit so I will let you all know the details. Thanks again everyone!!

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