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Where do the prices come from and will they work in places like California and New York?

The prices are national average repair cost pricing based on the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Unit Pricing Indexes and cross-referenced against historical data gathered from over 150 home rehabilitation projects.


How accurate are the numbers?

The accuracy of the budget numbers is partially a function of the users ability to properly configure the square footage and level of finish out (mid-range vs. high end). Once this information is configured properly, the scope selections (Moderate/Excessive, Repair/Replace, Partial/Complete ) must be accurately assigned as well. If the attributes are properly configures and the scope selections are done accurately, our historical findings are that the rehab budgets are within approximately 10% of the actual rehab cost. The House Hacker Lite Version offers the ability to override the auto-generated  values if the user receives a formal estimate that they wish to use in place of the default value further increasing the accuracy of the budget value calculation.


What is included in each of the categories?

The scope of work assumed in the categories can be seen when on the Repair Tab by hovering over the category name.


What are the differences between the mid-range and high-end, and what if I am evaluating a very high end custom home?

House Hacker is not intended to be used for very high-end custom homes. The budget numbers are intended to be accurate for the types of homes that production home builders are building. In most parts of the United States once a home is valued at over about $500,000 it begins to tip the scales into the Custom Home Market. Certain exceptions may apply in areas like California and New York where a home with a Mid-range finish out might be sold for over $500,000 because of the cost of land in that area. The important thing to remember is that the level of finish out is driven more by the types of fixtures and finishes used that the value of the home. As a rule of thumb houses with stainless steel appliance, granite countertops and natural stone floors are usually High-end homes whereas homes with white or black appliances, laminate countertops and ceramic tile floors are usually Mid-range homes.


Will this work for apartments and multi-family?

House Hacker is not intended to be used on apartment complexes, however it can still accurate if used with discretion on 2-4 unit dwellings.


What kind of trades do I have to use to hit the budgets that are generated?

The budgets that are generated are intended to reflect the price that you would pay if you directly hired a sub-contractor who self preforms that work. For instance, regarding paint: you are expected to locate a painter that runs a small contracting business and may even do the work himself. We call this the “man and a truck” model. You should not expect to hire a general contractor to perform the painting or even a large and/or boutique company out of the phone book as these trades will almost certainly be too expensive. You want to hire the same trades that a builder or general contractor would hire and coordinate and manage the work yourself. Or, you can include a General Contractor fee in your budget at the bottom of the item list on the Repair Tab using a 20% or 25% markup.


How often do you update the pricing?

Pricing updates are made 1-4 times per year based on the relative significance of changes affecting the residential remodeling industry.


Does this software install on my hard drive and do I have to have an internet connection to use the software?

House Hacker is a web-based software and does not install on you local hard drive. You do have to have Internet connectivity to use House Hacker


What devices will House Hacker run on?

You can use House Hacker on any device (computer, tablet or smartphone) using any Internet browser as long as you have an Internet connection.


How do I know the difference between Moderate/Excessive, Repair/Replace and Partial/Complete?

These selection as sometimes clearly objective but other time somewhat subjective observations. Repair/Replace is usually pretty cut and dry and so is Partial/Complete, however, when the Moderate/Excessive selections are present, you will have to make a judgment call to correctly determine the most accurate scope of work.


Why do some things show up twice in the list (i.e. Sheetrock Repairs and Sheetrock Replacement)?

The category titled “Sheetrock repair’ is asking about common sheetrock cracks and texture repairs that are found in almost every distressed property. “Sheetrock replacement is used when significant portions of sheetrock are being replaced (by the sheet) in cases where walls are being opened or moved and when sheetrock removal is necessary to remediate water and/or fire damage or other similar condition.




1. What is the House Hacker Report?  The House Hacker Report is a report that lists many of the common improvements investors make when attempting to increase the marketability of a house.  The report lists the renovation or improvement category and the associated estimated cost of making that improvement.

2. How is the report used?  The House Hacker Report lists line-item estimated costs for making improvements to single-family houses.  Many investors use the report to help them decide how much to budget for the “repair cost” of a particular property they are considering investing in.

3. These Estimated Costs Are Often Variable:  Our goal is to deliver accurate cost information but you should be advised that the estimated cost of each improvement can vary based on geographic, seasonal, competitive and economic conditions along with the differing labor rates that subcontractors charge for performing the same tasks.  Please understand that large cost differences will occur based on the quality grade, design, type and style of the materials used (i.e. a kitchen sink can cost $99 or $369; granite countertops range from $39 – $79 per square foot; cabinetry can be $70 – $350 per linear foot; carpet ranges from $1 – $3 per square foot).  We try to use what we believe would be the “typical cost” but that can be subjective.

4. Scope of Analysis:  Our goal is to give you comprehensive information about the cost of improvements.  However this report does not give a comprehensive listing of everything that could or should be done to improve or renovate this particular house—the report is limited only to the categories contained therein.  Additional expenses other than the ones listed in the report will probably be required.  Again, it must be understood that this is not a report to “fix up the house”—which is too broad and undefined an objective—it is a report to only address the scope of the populated cost line-items in the report.

5. Costs Are Not Usually Listed By Detailed Task Scope: This report does not usually list costs by a detailed task scope.  For example when you see the line item for “Sheetrock” it is listed as a single cost category instead of a listing the kinds of sheetrock activities and tasks that could be listed (i.e. patching holes, re-taping joints, texturing walls, etc.).

6. Verify the Square Footage (Very Important):  For estimating purposes we use square footage to determine a number of important cost categories in the house.  In many cases the accuracy of the cost data will only be as good as the accuracy of the square footage data.

7. This Is Not a Report About the Condition of the Home:  No warranties are made as to the physical condition of the property or the improvements and fixtures thereon.

8. Adverse Conditions & Latent Defects:  It is beyond the scope and purpose of this document to report the presence of any adverse conditions and/or latent defects on the property or in the structure (adverse conditions and latent defects may exist) including but not limited to plumbing, heating, air-conditioning and electrical systems, fixtures, appliances, roof, sewers, septic, well, soil conditions, chimney, fireplace, foundation, structural integrity, environmental conditions, pool or related equipment.

9. Subsurface and Concealed Conditions:  Since the following estimated costs are based on a cursory observation of the property, they do not take in consideration that there may be unusual subsurface or concealed conditions on the property or in the structure (subsurface or concealed conditions may exist which require attention) i.e. termite damage, rot, non-standard construction methods or materials, etc.

10. It Is Strongly Recommended That You Hire a Professional, Licensed Real Estate Inspector:  This report should not in any way be substituted for a real-estate inspection. We advise you to hire a professional real-estate inspector, structural engineer, environmental specialist or other professional inspection agents who can provide you with information about the structure, the systems and the presence or lack of any adverse conditions or harmful materials.

11. Here Are Some Typical Problem Areas (Hire an Inspector to Determine the Condition of These Areas):  Following are some typical problem areas that are often overlooked.  This is not a complete list.  Please consult with a professional licensed inspector to investigate these areas and make a determination about the condition and recommended remedy.  These areas include but are not limited to:  septic systems, wells, heating & air conditioning systems, duct work, plumbing systems (i.e. water supply lines, drain lines, waste lines, vent pipes, sewer lines, gas lines, gas heaters) electrical systems (i.e. the presence of aluminum wiring, required re-wiring, lack of GFCI outlets, required service upgrade, poorly or non-functioning receptacles, switches, light fixtures, exhaust and ceiling fans), appliances, hot water heaters, structural problems, inadequate insulation levels, chimney or fireplace problems, infestation and damage by rodents, pests and/or wood-destroying insects.

12. This Is Not a Real-Estate Appraisal.  Perform Due Diligence to Determine the Grade and Quality of Materials You Should Use:  This report offers estimated cost areas for budget purposes in improving the marketability of the home.  We are not real-estate agents or real-estate appraisers.  We advise you to consult with a real-estate agent or real-estate appraiser who would be familiar with surrounding home values in this area so you can make a more informed decision about the kinds of renovations and quality or grade of materials, products and overall improvements needed to make this particular home marketable for its neighborhood.

13. This Is Not a Bid, Contractor Estimate or Work Proposal.  The main purpose of this document is to help you determine some of the costs you could incur in bringing this home up to a projected marketable condition.

15. Hazardous Materials:  It is beyond the scope and purpose of this document to report the presence of Urea Formaldehyde Insulation, Asbestos, Radon, Lead Based Paint, Molds, or Hazardous or Toxic Waste in the home. We readily acknowledge that these substances could be present and you should understand that these are all hazardous substances and have caused illness and death. You should be aware that inspectors can do tests to detect such substances in a home. We recommend that you have the home tested by a professional to determine if these items are present.

17. Contingency Budget:  A contingency budget of about 5% is usually added to offset the fluctuation and variability of the line-item costs listed within this report.  The contingency applies only to the categories that are populated with dollar amounts.  The contingency should not be looked at as additional budgeted monies for extras, add-ons, change orders, etc.