How to estimate a job

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  #1  
Old 02-01-12, 09:42 AM
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How to estimate a job

Like the title says, im just getting into remodeling for a living and getting on the books i guess you would say. im just confused on how to charge people. Im pretty much giving out a number and usually ending up within$15-20 on the material but im killing myself on the labor. my question is there a project estimator or something out there that will guesstimate for me or give me a rough guesstimate,at least something to start with and build off of that?

thanks in advance mike
 
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  #2  
Old 02-01-12, 11:53 AM
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I think this is where experience really comes to play. A program can help with materials but labor is all up to you. Do you work fast or slow? what kind of tools do you have? What level of quality do you aim for? What are you remodeling? What is the condition of the building? All of these things can dramatically affect the time required and every project is different.
 
  #3  
Old 02-01-12, 01:47 PM
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Have you called any of your competitors and gotten the prices they charge? If you have already started business and quoted jobs you can call the customers back who didn't accept your bid and ask them what they chose to do.
 
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Old 02-01-12, 01:58 PM
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Like Dane said, it comes with experience. It also has to do with the market. You charge more than the market can stand, you'll eat beenie weenies forever. The housing market is basically at the bottom right now. Some recovery is in the offing. We are busy with remodels, but nothing like it was 3 years ago.
Sometimes you can set an hourly rate, sometimes you have to go by the "job" price. Larger projects will require you to do a contract package, where, if you goof, you eat beenie weenies, again.
Materials is not that difficult to figure. Labor is very sensitive, so you have to be careful not to charge too much, and not to charge too little. I wish there was a magic pill, but there isn't.
 
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Old 02-01-12, 02:56 PM
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StephRoss
i have called competitors and gotten per sq. ft. cost on my last job which did give me a little help.
Im a real perfectionist when it comes to my work and also my worst critic! so saying that im not a real quick worker acting like its my house im working on. that is how i was raised and it just never faded out of my work ethic,not a bad thing either...lol.
i did find a site called Project Cost - Repair a Toilet but it doesnt have alot of the basic stuff,a good start!
 
  #6  
Old 02-02-12, 04:51 AM
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Working faster while still maintaining quality is the best way to raise your paycheck. People will pay more for quality work but until your reputation gets built up, it will be difficult to sell a job that you've priced higher than the competition.

almost forgot welcome to the forums Mike!
 
  #7  
Old 02-02-12, 10:16 AM
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marksr
thanks i just havent ever wanted to rush thru something. dont get me wrong im not snail movement but im sure not as quick as a rabbit! im never going to compramise my quality thats what is getting me jobs. all my work has ever come from word of mouth!
 
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Old 02-02-12, 10:20 AM
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If there are some tasks that are taking a long time and throwing you off your estimate is there a tool that would help speed things up and help you hit your estimate?
 
  #9  
Old 02-02-12, 10:48 AM
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More tools! I like that idea! It's true that the right tools are a real time saver. They can also improve the quality of the work! Who doesn't do better work when you enjoy what you're doing because you have the right tools! (I know I'd do better work if I was driving a new 2013 Toyota Tundra! LOL)

It also takes experience to learn where you can save time... what things HAVE to be perfect and which things don't. You can't be "microman" with regard to every element of a project or it will take forever. It's good to be particular, (getting things level and plumb for instance) but you also have to be fast. Generally things NEVER go as fast as you think they will, so you might need to learn to factor that in.

A guy I subcontract for will estimate how long a job will take me, and I can usually take his estimate and double the time "HE thinks" it will take, and its usually about right. (I don't work slow, he's a terrible estimator! LOL!)

Those things that are charged by the sq ft... sometimes it depends who you ask as far as what the going price is. A GC might charge .30 sf for drywall hanging, but he might only pay .15 sf to his subcontractors. So if you are in business for yourself, (with overhead) which would YOU charge?

I pretty much estimate projects in terms of what jobs are 1 man, 1 day or 2 man, 1 day. You kind of need to think about that and remember that 2 men cannot usually get twice as much done, just because there is 2x the manpower. That's just the way it works if 2 people are working together. If ur by yourself, it's actually easier to figure because YOU know how fast YOU can work.

If you've been burned on a few projects, maybe you just need to spend more time thinking EVERYTHING through each step of the way, and be more generous with your time estimates. Sometimes underbidding is a result of not thinking things through very well. If you think something will take 6 hours to do, figure it will take 50% longer. Also take into consideration travel time, materials acquisition, tool expenses. You want to be fair to the customer and give a solid bid, but not if you're going to take it in the shorts. If work is hard to come by, or you are just getting started, you might NEED to be a little more competitive just to get the jobs. Bottom line is that you usually control the speed and the quality of the work... so I'd say spend more time planning your estimates.
 
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Old 02-02-12, 03:46 PM
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I know I'd do better work if I was driving a new 2013 Toyota Tundra!
Are you sure? or would you take a longer route to the job just to enjoy the new ride?

mna, how long have you been doing this type of work? Most of us started out working for someone else, learned the trade and then took off on our own. Having a good bit of experience helps you to figure the job better because it's something you've done many times.

While some jobs have a reoccurring sq footage price that was set on the first job and renegotiated from time to time, other jobs are priced individually. I've usually figured out how much time and material the job would take and then add 10%. If you have a lot of overhead or expensive tools that need replacing from time to time - you need to figure that in too. Most of my work related tools were bought as I needed them..... or could afford them. Depending on the work being done, there are some tools you can't afford not to have. Renting is always an option but I've always looked for an excuse to buy a new tool

While I can only speak for certain about painting - there is no such thing as a perfect paint job but if you can give the illusion of a perfect job [and the prep was proper] you've done a good job. I suspect the same can be said about any trade.
 
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Old 02-02-12, 03:50 PM
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I've never expected perfection from a pro, that's only required when I'm doing the work and I definitely take a whole lot more time.

Somtimes getting the last 5-10% of the job done takes 50-100% more time and as a pro you just can't afford that.
 
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Old 02-02-12, 04:05 PM
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There ya go.....more tools!! One instance. I pay my helper by the hour to nail in joist hangers....bang, bang, bang....by hand. I bought a Bostitch Strapshot nailer and he can install one hanger in about 15 seconds as opposed to two minutes. Savin' time. Yeah, the tool cost money, but I made up for it on two jobs.
We have a local cabinet maker who delivers his cabinets in a 20' wedge black trailer pulled by a new Hummer....big hummer. Do that and customers will wonder if they are paying too much. On the other hand don't drive up in a 1965 Ford F100 with a broken left spring, nearly flat tire, and bad paint job, with your company name in magic marker
Work smart, not hard.
 
  #13  
Old 02-02-12, 10:31 PM
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One thing I have noticed when acquaintances have started small companies is that they fail to pay themselves for all the fringe benefits they might receive from being an employee and all the additional taxes and fees for running a business.

For example, do you include any portion of your medical insurance as part of your hourly rate? How about self-employment taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes? State, county and city business licensing and taxes? Additional business insurance and vehicle costs? Do you charge for your time and additional expenses in acquiring materials and permits?

These are only a few of the "incidental charges" that MUST be included in your hourly rate if you have any hope of making a profit in your company. Don't forget a bookkeeper (part time is okay) and tax preparation help. Far too many people ignore these very real costs and end up failing miserably in the end. They get plenty of work because their prices are far less than the competition, but they lose money on every single job. Also don't forget any trade licensing that may be required in your area along with contractor surety bonding.
 
  #14  
Old 02-03-12, 05:55 PM
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thanks for all the great info fellas! to answer a few questions ,yes i have been in construction for 20 yrs. working for other companys for 11 yrs and then getting out of it full time getting a factory job(yuck but the pay and benifits are very hard to give up) and now for the past 6 months i have been running my own company.
speaking of the right tools that hits it right on the head. i just bought a dewalt impact drill holy crap that is awesome!
i think your vehicle and clean shoes is a reflection of you,if both are dirty or beat up alot of times so is your work. personal opinion please dont beat me up over it...lol.
XSleeper
i think that is the question im asking i guess living in northeast ohio does anyone have any "going rates" that i can start out with? its only me except when i get big jobs that will take to long i have someone that will work for me .
 
  #15  
Old 02-03-12, 08:28 PM
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Might depend on if your are rural or city as far as the rates go.

I've got the same amount of experience as you mentioned, work by myself usually, so just have my business expenses, vehicle, tools, overhead, taxes, insurance, etc. to pay for. I "like" to get $40/hr when I have work that is strictly by the hour. When I estimate jobs that will be bid, that's the daily minimum that I start with. Depending on the job I will sometimes accept less- just depends how hungry I am! LOL

But there are also certain jobs that I will never charge by the hour and are always bid by the sq ft. Roofs for example. Depending on how hard you want to work you can make some good money, especially doing tearoffs. But they make an old man out of you pretty quickly. LOL

For small jobs it helps to have a minimum charge. If you are travelling quite a distance for work you might also tack on a small "energy surcharge" to help with fuel expenses. Pickup trucks don't get the best mileage you know!

If you have someone working for you, be sure you are marking up their labor. If you pay them $10/hr bill them out at $25. You have to pay for their taxes, insurance and the paperwork it takes to pay them.
 
  #16  
Old 02-04-12, 01:12 PM
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Consider that most plumbers, electricians or HVAC people charge $75 or more as a base or minimum.
 
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