Sometimes a homeowner calls asking how much we charge per linear foot for tunneling. In most of these cases, they have an estimate from another company and are doing a little comparison shopping.
While we could give out a number, it’s not as easy as that. There’s a lot more to it.
The problem is knowing the per linear foot charge does not give an accurate picture of how much a job is going to cost in the end.
And there are multiple reasons for this.
No Questions Asked?
First I want to say, be wary of any company who will give you this price over the phone no questions asked. If you do come across a company who does this, be aware that that price is going to go up at some point.
And remember. Anyone can say anything over the phone. You can even get it in writing. But the real test is will they back it up? There are numerous plumbing companies in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who employ a foot in the door tactic by giving a low bid upfront. Then once they’re there and you’ve got a hole in your slab and several feet of tunnel under the foundation… surprise! It’s going to cost more.
And not only can (and most likely will) the price go up but we’ve come across too many homes where the work promised and paid for wasn’t done.
It’s not unheard of for a company to quote 20 feet of tunnel and plumbing just to get under the slab and either get tired of it or run out of money because they quoted you too low and can’t finish the job. So they don’t.
And they know most, if any, homeowners aren’t crawling up under the slab to check and see if the work was done.
We’ve worked on multiple houses recently where homeowners were told one thing by other companies. Then we go out and find those companies did not do what they said (and took the money for). And then those companies won’t pick up the phone.
No One-Size-Fits-All Plumbing Pricing
So we do have a general per foot charge. But that can change depending on any number of factors. Because every house is different, we can’t know for sure what that will be until we know what we’re dealing with.
First we have access holes. Any tunnel has to start with an access hole whether that be inside the home or outside of the home.
Then there’s the actual tunnel. And don’t forget, there’s plumbing that has to be done as well. It doesn’t matter how much you excavate, we’ve got to actually plumb it in the end. And that involves a labor charge.
We’ve also got to clean up and haul everything off (trash, dirt, etc.). This is labor as well. And in most situations, we need to get a permit for that.
And there are possible obstacles which affect also pricing.
Here’s a short list of potential obstacles:
- A/C units
- Wood decks
- Rainwater drainage systems
- Roots (sometimes massive roots)
- Swimming pools
Some homes are located in areas that are prone to more rock where others are more sand. There are also major trees around many homes. Sometimes there’s massive amounts of concrete.
Also how far do we need to dig from an access hole? The further away you get from an access hole, the more expensive it gets.
All of these things have to be taken under consideration making the per linear foot price an almost useless number to know.
We worked with a homeowner who had been told he had a sewer leak in the master bathroom. The company told him he needed 25 feet of tunnel and an access hole. So he called us to find out how much we would charge for that amount of work.
Because we always verify another company’s findings — which I talk about in this post — we went out and found a leak on the fittings at the double sinks in the master bath. According to the diagram the other company gave the homeowner, they were proposing 25 feet of tunnel and not a single foot went to where the leak was.
And not only were they not tunneling to the leak but they proposed tunneling under the tub and the toilet where there were no leaks (something we determined in our leak location test). And the tunnel itself was not how you tunnel.
The shortest distance from point A to point B is a straight line. So it would make sense to go from the access hole straight to the leak. But instead of going from an access hole straight to the leak, they planned on some ludicrous “f” shaped tunnel.
Having been in this business as long as I have and seeing all the tricks these guys play, I am confident they knew the leak was at the sink. There’s no way they couldn’t know. And that’s why they didn’t draw tunnel there.
They planned on digging to the toilet, “fixing” the leak and then coming back and saying, oh and by the way, there’s another leak under the sink. We need another 10 to 15 feet of tunnel to fix that leak.
We went in, made an access hole and three feet of tunnel to the actual leak and fixed it. That’s right. Instead of 25 feet of tunnel, only three were needed.
So what would have happened if we just gave a price over the phone and asked no questions? The homeowner would have ended up paying FAR more than was necessary and possibly still have a leak.
Considering All the Factors With Underslab Tunneling
I’ll leave you with this last example. A homeowner called us for a quote on 175 feet of tunnel with 11 access holes. After two days of unanswered calls, she finally got this back from them.
What is that? How is anyone supposed to understand what needs to be done looking at that “diagram”?
Now compare that to what we do.
We came up with two options for this homeowner, neither of which involved 175 feet of tunnel and 11 interior and exterior access holes.
In both options, we propose rerouting much of the line outside of the house instead of tunneling under the house. With rerouting, we dig a trench outside and attach that pipe to the pipes in the house and to main sewer line.
Option #1 involved not replacing the pipe to the wet bar in the house instead removing and capping off the wet bar. This is becoming more common with homeowners as most don’t use wet bars anymore. With this there are two exterior access holes, 57 feet of tunnel and 170 feet of trench outside.
And option #2 keeps the wet bar with 68 feet of tunnel, 3 exterior access holes and 170 feet of trench outside.
With our two options, we saved the homeowner about $25,000 to $30,000.
Rerouting vs. Tunneling
So why didn’t the other company offer rerouting the pipe instead of tunneling?
As I mention in this post, other companies want to tunnel AS MUCH as possible. They want to make more money so they always propose the maximum amount of tunneling. They are 100% looking out for themselves, not their customers.
Our goal is to give the most accurate estimate possible to prevent the need to come back and ask for more money later.
It’s not that it never happens. Nobody can know the exact situation until they get under the slab, but with our customer first motto, we do everything we can to give the most accurate estimate possible.
If you have any question about any of this or have been given an estimate by another company that you’re not sure about, please give us a call at 972-494-1750. Or email email@example.com.
We’re happy to help in any way we can.