Home improvement projects can be costly, especially if you have no idea what you're doing.

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Home improvement projects can be costly, especially if you have no idea what you're doing. We want to make sure you don't get ripped off by a business.

Home expert Tom Garcia has compiled a list of projects and what you can expect to pay for them.

First, the air conditioning. Service call for general maintenance is about $100. This is for cleaning the system and checking its performance. If the unit is low on Freon, the cost of Freon is about $60 per pound needed.

If an air conditioner needs to be replaced, the cost is about $2500 per ton of a/c unit. Basically, every house requires 1 to 1.5 tons of air conditioning for every 1000 square feet of home. There are other factors such as windows and the insulation level of the home, but that is a good estimate.

If your gutters need attention, they generally come in 2 sizes, 5 inch and 6 inch. For 5" - replacement cost is about $3.00 per linear foot of gutter. For 6" - replacement cost is about $5.00 per linear foot of gutter.

For gutter toppers, which is essentially a cap that goes on the gutter to keep leaves out, the cost is an additional $3 per linear foot

If you need to repair or replace shingles on your roof, they're sold by the "square" which is 100 square feet. The shingles alone range from about $70 to $100 per square. The range is because some shingles are fancier and have longer warranties than other shingles.

You'll also want to make sure a contractor has good insurance. While some contractors may be cheaper than others, if they don't have the proper insurance in place, the homeowner is taking a big risk by hiring them. The most important are General Liability and Workers Compensation. Both protect the homeowner in the event damage to the home occurs or the contractor gets injured while performing the work.The labor for the shingles ranges from $50 per square to more than $100. The range is because steeper roofs are more difficult to install the shingles than less steep roofs. Most typical houses have about between 25 and 40 square of shingles. That of course can be smaller or larger but that would cover a typical 2000 square foot house.

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