Hi, I'm a homeowner for 11 years now and own a circa 1900 house; yes, we've had many professionals work for us over the years!

I just had a disconcerting encounter with a plumbing company that came over to give an estimate on some new work. After about 5 minutes of surveying, he asked if I was going to pull permits for this job; we could do it 'legally', or "illegally"; of course it was going to cost much more to do it legally.

I then turned the conversation to what he was going to note on the estimate in either case, and I was made to understand that they only give oral estimates; for the privilege of a written estimate I could pay him $150 and they would take the estimate price off the job.

I was always under the impression that it was prudent to get 3 written estimates and check references; Is the economic recovery so good that a free written estimate is a thing of the past?

My time is valuable as well; I had to get in late to work to meet this plumber.