$4K + for labor installing insert? Yikes

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New Member
Oct 5, 2022
I recently posted here about three quotes I received to put a wood insert in our currently open fireplace, our preferred company seeming extremely high. They quoted $9,624 to install a Lopi Evergreen with 15' insulated liner (noting that unfortunately they aren't a Lopi dealer and therefore pay a higher price for the insert we want). I was antsy to catch the no-cap 2022 tax credit but received good advice here to cool my jets over the $380 difference from the 2023 tax credit (based on this quote) and get all my questions answered.

Someone else recommended asking for an itemized bid, which I did request and was told they don't provide those. That seems like a red flag to both me and my construction-worker husband, but the company has glowing reviews over many years and has been great with communication and obvious expertise that's been lacking elsewhere. As you'll see below he did share that materials would be $5,500, which means they're taking $4K for the install. That seems... outrageous? We have a 15' chimney and there's nothing crazy about our setup except maybe my request to cut the shroud to match arched masonry. We are in the lower Midwest.

Response when I requested itemization:
"Unfortunately, we do not offer itemized breakdowns for a number of reasons. What I can tell you is the cost of materials to do the job is roughly $5,500. There is a lot that goes into are pricing such as, taxes, workers comp, rent for our shop, paying our office personal, and everything else it takes to run a successful small business. The way I come up with our numbers is we use a computer software that we fill out with the type of install, length of flue, unit cost, flue sizing, difficulty of job, etc. Let me know if you have any other questions."

Original language on their bid:
"REMEDIES: Installation of a wood burner insert. Removal of everything inside the firebox.
Removal of the damper door, and the current chimney cap. Installation of a stainless steel UL
listed manufacturer approved pre-insulated liner system going from the top of the chimney, down
to where the top of the insert will be. Installation of a top plate to secure the liner into place at the
top of the chimney. Installation of angle iron, to raise the insert up to the hearth level. Installation of
the wood burning insert, this includes connecting the liner to it, and attaching the blower. Running
of the chord for the blower neatly, across the hearth to a nearby outlet. Cutting of the shroud to fit
inside the arched fireplace opening. Installation of the shroud to hide the pre-existing fireplace
opening. Total Installed $9,634"
Personally, I would just say no. Try again in spring or on a hot summer day in July.
Why do they have to raise the insert?
The bottom of the firebox is not flush with the firebricks that line the opening. Those bricks sit about 4" higher (how it was built for some reason) before stepping up another inch or so to the hearth.
That should be a pretty fast and easy process. It can be as simple as placing some bricks or 4" cement blocks in the fireplace for support.
Interesting, you could fill that gap with Concrete board. If it is an easy install and you are handy you might look into doing this yourself after getting your PHD in insert installs on here ;lol
Haha, we're heading in that direction for sure! Seriously it's a generous resource the professionals provide here. My husband & I both work in fields that IMO are undervalued (I'm a journalist & folks in the digital era expect news for free without subscription, he's a construction worker so enough said). We value expertise & want to pay skilled folks what they deserve to live a good life--just not get price-gouged! Will certainly be waiting to try again with quotes in the off-season.