Have Questions about a Replacement Cost Estimate?

Frequently Asked Questions

Licensed builders should provide replacement cost estimates for several reasons. Mostly because they ensure the most accurate rebuilding cost projection, helping you obtain proper insurance coverage.

By staying updated on market trends, material prices, and labor costs, builders can offer accurate estimates.

Insurance companies like the California Fair Plan, AAA, USAA, Nationwide, and others may require a Replacement Cost Estimate (RCE) in order to demonstrate a more accurate rebuild cost. Especially if the rebuild is likely to be more than $1.5 million.


An RCE is designed to give you a better idea of what it would cost to rebuild your home were it completely lost in a disaster. While it is best to obtain one from a California licensed builder, the estimate itself does not guarantee any insurance amount or coverage.

We do know that many companies now require an RCE. We have been told by multiple insurance brokers that, when a home is valued at over $1.5million to rebuild, an RCE will expedite the process of obtaining coverage when applying for the CA FAIR Plan

A BW Builder RCE contains two pages related to the methods we utilize to price our estimates. Aside from our own building projects and expertise, BW Builder reaches out to general contractors around the state on a monthly basis to confirm local numbers.

The BW Builder RCE follows guidelines of CA Insurance Code title 10 § 2695.183 to ensure that any insurance company can accept the data contained in our RCEs.

A BW Builder RCE will contain information regarding the type of foundation, roof, siding, lot, square footage, geographic location, WUI status, number of stories, age of the home, any external dwellings, and any other special features the home possesses.

A BW Builder RCE is written for your home. It is a bespoke estimate. No other is like it. We do not use national averages for costs. We take each case singularly.

Doing these estimates properly takes time. Unlike the $15 versions you may find online, we customize each RCE to reflect the true nature of the home in question. AI and software have applications all over business. But BW Builder believe in doing this right the first time. Our builder evaluates each home. We review documents, public records, and photographs and couple that with our proprietary pricing data.

National price of building averages are meaningless in California. When it comes to rebuilding your most valuable asset, you want the accurate RCE, not the least expensive one.

While cannot guarantee an insurance company will or will not accept any RCE, our estimate is produced with insurance companies in mind. We have created over 500 RCEs which have all been acceptable for insurance companies. Our estimates have been accepted by CA Fair Plan, AAA, Nationwide, State Farm, Farmers, USAA, GEICO, and more. The estimates are created with a licensed builder and follow the guidelines spelled out in the CA insurance code.

Every California region has variable pricing. As the old real estate refrain goes “Location, location, location…” and that is very true for RCEs.

The home’s geographic location is the primary cost consideration after the style of the home and types of materials used. Because CA is an expensive state to live, workers must be paid more. Therefore, labor costs are higher than anywhere else in the lower 48 states.

Materials that go into building are subject to unique regulations and compliance in California. Building Code standards are more extensive, in particular related to energy conservation and seismic fortifications.

Finally, there is a shortage of labor. So many homes have burned in the last decade, builders can’t keep up. While that story is leveling off, the prices builders and subcontractors charge for their work is higher than it has ever been.

We can’t tell you one figure for one town. What we can tell you is that, since 2017, building costs have nearly doubled in California.

An RCE from BW Builder (a licensed builder in California) is tailored to the details of your property. A BW Builder RCE is a seven-page .PDF. It will be emailed to you upon completion. The professional RCE will contain the Age of the home/Square footage/Finish features/Foundation and Roof Type/Fixtures/Photos (If you upload pictures)/and our Pricing Methodology.

All of the above features in our RCE will specifically refer to your property.