Bidding Paint Jobs

Old 11-07-04, 10:12 PM
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Bidding Paint Jobs

I am recently laid off and need to keep the income flow going until I can find my next corporate nightmare.

I have all the necessary painting equipment to handle some small to medium jobs. I'm also live in my 3rd 80+ yr old rehab project which has given me plenty of experience both inside and out. Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy painting.

The only thing I lack is the know-how to bid jobs. Is there a formula I can use from house to house? Do inside bids vary from outside? Is it better to separate labor from materials? Should I ask for upfront monies? Any other tips you can pass on???


Hardworking American Boy
Old 11-08-04, 04:39 PM
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Is there a formula I can use from house to house?
Yes, if you know the relevant info for bidding by sq. ft., then yes. But for a novice, it would be tough to explain or implement.
Easiest way to price a job, know how long it takes you to complete a specific task. Such as, how long it takes to cut and roll a 10 x 10 room, or how long it takes to paint 100 lin. ft. of trim. Then figure out how much money you need to make in a day. How many days X daily wage equals labor. Add materials to the end, and there is a price.
Do inside bids vary from outside?
Not really, just make sure to charge for the logistics part. How am I going to get way up there, and how long is it going to take to paint from a ladder. And don't forget the weather makes a big bearing on exterior jobs.
Is it better to separate labor from materials?
I usually don't, unless the customer asks specifically for it. I prefer to provide the materials, and give a lump sum for the job. This way I don't have to deal with cheap or inferior paint. And most people looking to save a buck will instantly offer to buy the paint. Bad news.
Should I ask for upfront monies?
Always get 1/3 down or at least enough to cover your materials. I dn't like it when it costs me to go to work. I'm there to make money.
Any other tips you can pass on???
Get liability insurance, join a trade organization like PDCA or NAPP, market yourself, and find ways to make yourself stand out from all the others. ALWAYS show up on time, and start jobs when scheduled. Wear decent looking whites, and be professional.
Old 11-08-04, 08:15 PM
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Thanks Brother. . .
Old 11-09-04, 04:31 AM
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Don't itemize the materials. Like PWG said, people will instantly question the cost of the paint. eg) Why are you charging me $30/gallon when paint only costs $10/gallon? One room is bad enough, but if you're costing several rooms it is worse. The customer will perceive you as ripping them off. They will never understand nor care about the quality differences.
Old 11-09-04, 05:57 AM
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In the same vein, beware of jobs where the customer says "I'll buy-or-I already have the paint/stain"
It seems tempting (you get to keep all the $)
Invariably the homeowner, like BobF says, buys/has bought cheap paint/stain
It will take you twice as long and will still look bad
The homeowner will think it's you, not the cheap materials
Old 11-09-04, 04:12 PM
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Like the guys said about bidding. It will take time and experience to be able to estimate correctly. Don't be discouraged if you lose money on jobs in the beginning trying to estimate labor. Square footage may be a better option first until you get a experience on several jobs. TIme and materials can be great if you choose the paint and the customer agrees. I would get an account at a paint store right away as well.
Old 11-13-04, 09:07 AM
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is this bid ok


I am new to the forums. My husband has been forced into self employment due to our growing economy. Anyway, he recently bid a job and had his father recieve the fax for someone next door. He called and began yelling because he said it was way too high and he would not give it to the customer. I am going to paste the bid here and welcome any comments. We live in PA, near the city as I know location could make a difference.

Thanks, any suggestions would be appreciated.


Bedroom walls, closets and ceiling - 3
Baths - 1
Hallways - 2
Living room - 1
dining room - 1
Closets - 2 small
Trim throughout upstairs
Bi-folds - 2
6 panel doors - 7

Estimated paint @ 1 coat primer and 1 coat finish - $450

Estimated time to complete - 48 hours

Total estimate: $2,700.00
Upfront cost: $900.00
Old 11-13-04, 11:35 AM
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It's not clear to me what relationship the father, the neighbour, the customer and your husband has to each other.

I can't comment on the actual dollar value of the quote but there seems to be a bit of a mix-up in terminology.

A "quotation" is normally what is referred to as a firm price quotation based on the details that are listed.
An "estimate" is only a best guess as to what the final cost will be.

Most customers want a firm price, but you as a contactor can qualify the firm price quote with some specific details.
For instance you can provide in your quote a specific amount of time and material that you think it will take and then quote a firm price based on this amount.
However, when there is uncertainty as to the final cost most people will shy away from you.
The more experience you have in a particular area the more a contractor should make a commitment to a firm price.

I would reword the quote to give the exact details of each room that is to be painted, including things like baseboard removal but only a price with no reference to time or material.
My feeling is that if you offer a per hour price people are really only hiring you as an employee or a laborer.
Being a contractor and offering a firm price, you should know enough about what you are doing to price the work fairly AND maximize the profit from the job.

I often request money up front, but show it as a line under the price that reads: Deposit required with order: $X,XXX.00.
Old 11-13-04, 11:56 AM
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I guess I didn't make it clear that this is just hung drywall, no removal or set up required. He can pretty much go in and paint which he believes will take 40 hours but I figured 48 because he often underestimates his time.... These are just modest, average sized rooms and the customer does not care for the detail just the bottom line price. I merely wanted to know if anyone thought the price was too high?

he will have to prime and the new walls will soak up a lot of that prior to painting. This is his cousin so he is trying to cut him a little break but I have now resources to figure out bidding at all.

Also, thanks for the suggestion for up front cost. I do think deposit is better.

Old 11-13-04, 04:36 PM
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$2700 - $450 materials = $2250; divided by 6 days = $375 per day.
Not a bad price, reasonable if he is a good painter (journeyman level). If he is a novice, then its fairly steep. I wouldn't pay a rookie that much to do anything.

Bear in mind, working for friends/relatives is the worst, they are your toughest customers, want it to look its best, and want to pay the least. They need to be reminded that you do this for a living not as a hobby.

If your husband is really determined to do this as a living, then he needs to do some research on the business of running a painting/contracting company. PM me if you want more resources.
Old 11-14-04, 06:21 AM
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Thanks, he had been working for high end customers only when he left his old job so he is pretty good, at least a little better than average.

I do know that relatives is hard and that is why I made sure to put a stipulation/guarantee and signature lines.

I am currently enrolled in a unitversity program for small business. The problem is we have not gotten far enough to do the bidding yet. I have 10 individual research and counseling session alotted by the SBA at the university which is where I will have them help me with bidding but doesn't help yet.

Thank you for your input. I appreciate it.


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