The Square D Homeline was designed to compete with the likes of GE and ITE. Load center panel with cheap aluminum bus.
The Square D QO load center on the other hand is a good load center panel with plated copper bus. The QO breakers are also good quality breakers.
As for the HD pricing surely you would not expect an electrical contractor to send an employee to HD to buy the panel and breakers and then only charge the customer the actual HD cost.
Materials alone would cost more than $949.00
It is possible to buy a load center with aluminum bus, breakers, and a whole house Surge Protection Device for under $300.00..... Quality of ??
If an electrical permit will be pulled add the cost of the permit.
Good chance the AHJ will require AFCI, (arc fault breakers), for the 120V 15 amp branch circuits that feed the bedrooms. (NEC 2002)
An AFCI costs around $42.00 each at HD.
The AHJ may not have adopted the NEC 2008 code change for additional AFCI protection required for other 120V 15 and 20 amp branch circuits.
Good chance the electrical service Grounding Electrode System will need to be updated to meet current code as well as the power company's grounding requirements for lightning protection.
Add material and labor costs + markup.
The wire from the meter socket to the new panel may not be long enough to terminate on the main breaker lugs and the neutral bus lug.
Unless you specify otherwise the contractor will have his electrician install aluminum wire.
Add material and labor + markup.
There is a deal through a company offering a new electrical panel with whole house surge protection for $949, the regular price is $2495.