How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?

 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 12-07-2015, 03:55 PM   #21
Member
 
_xyz's Avatar
 
Trade: Renovations
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: NJ
Posts: 55
Rewards Points: 128

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


What about when you guys were starting out? Did you just do a lot of guesstimating and mold your spreadsheets from there?

On another note, I'm always getting small add-ons, which trip me up as far as pricing. Just yesterday, a client asked if I would install a set of attic stairs in their garage. I said sure. I looked it up on one of these homewyse-type sites for a baseline and they were listing low 700's in my area. That's not the number I would have thrown out. Anyone know of a decent source of estimating that smaller stuff? I recall a while back Barnes and Noble carried an orange book with a ton of stuff in it, but not anymore.
_xyz is offline  

Warning: The topics covered on this site include activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. ContractorTalk.com DOES NOT guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this site. Always use proper safety precaution and reference reliable outside sources before attempting any construction or remodeling task!

   

Advertisement

 

Old 12-07-2015, 04:27 PM   #22
Hair Splitter
 
TNTSERVICES's Avatar
 
Trade: General
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Naperville, IL
Posts: 16,713
Rewards Points: 1,532

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I am working on a spreadsheet for bathrooms. I started with the shower and realized how complicated my job is just trying to think of every screw and widget and time to order, deliver, install, rollup...

I have most of the shower stuff complete, no working on adding tubs, floors and other items.

When I get it a bit more honed I will post in the doc share thread.
__________________
Tried & True on Facebook
Tried & True Website
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarpenterSFO View Post
You ask for your money frequently, and you collect it quickly, else you stop working immediately.
TNTSERVICES is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to TNTSERVICES For This Useful Post:
Philament (12-07-2015), TaylorMadeAB (12-10-2015)
Old 12-07-2015, 04:39 PM   #23
Pro
 
Philament's Avatar
 
Trade: Whatever the customer wants
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Ottawa, ON
Posts: 1,093
Rewards Points: 1,992

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by TNTSERVICES View Post
I am working on a spreadsheet for bathrooms. I started with the shower and realized how complicated my job is just trying to think of every screw and widget and time to order, deliver, install, rollup...

I have most of the shower stuff complete, no working on adding tubs, floors and other items.

When I get it a bit more honed I will post in the doc share thread.
This would be nice to see. Not for the numbers, but just to see others methods of work to fill in the holes of my own abysmal estimating spreadsheets.
Philament is offline  
   
 
Old 12-07-2015, 05:31 PM   #24
Pro
 
TimberlineMD's Avatar
 
Trade: Remodeling Contractor
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Arizona
Posts: 434
Rewards Points: 726

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


The 'Craftsman Software' has tasks broken down into time measurements, which I use quite often. I find it pretty close on that score. I do use my own labor dollar amounts though.
__________________
It's easy to have a business that is busy.. it's harder to have a business that makes a profit
TimberlineMD is offline  
Old 12-07-2015, 07:15 PM   #25
edward trowelhands
 
Golden view's Avatar
 
Trade: Diplomat
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 3,028
Rewards Points: 3,010

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by TNTSERVICES View Post
I am working on a spreadsheet for bathrooms. I started with the shower and realized how complicated my job is just trying to think of every screw and widget and time to order, deliver, install, rollup...

I have most of the shower stuff complete, no working on adding tubs, floors and other items.

When I get it a bit more honed I will post in the doc share thread.
Sometimes too complicated is just as bad as trying to estimate by square footage.

I have 15-20 line items for kitchens and baths. Quite a few more for bigger projects.
Golden view is offline  
Old 12-07-2015, 07:17 PM   #26
edward trowelhands
 
Golden view's Avatar
 
Trade: Diplomat
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 3,028
Rewards Points: 3,010

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


This thread got me wondering how well I really did at the end of the year. My income is 95% of what my expected income per job is. That extra 5% includes insurance, licensing, tools. Way better than I expected.
Golden view is offline  
Old 12-07-2015, 07:39 PM   #27
Drywall Slave
 
blacktop's Avatar
 
Trade: drywall contractor
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: VA.
Posts: 8,607
Rewards Points: 2,420

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


As long as they don't chew the subs down to win the bid .. I don't care how they estimate !
blacktop is offline  
Old 12-07-2015, 09:19 PM   #28
Member
 
_xyz's Avatar
 
Trade: Renovations
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: NJ
Posts: 55
Rewards Points: 128

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I'm pretty sure I'm not making what I could/should be. I'm still a newbie as far as going out on my own. Of course it doesn't help that the guy I worked for was retired at 43 with a pension check every month so I doubt he was charging what the next guy was.
_xyz is offline  
Old 12-07-2015, 09:56 PM   #29
Hair Splitter
 
TNTSERVICES's Avatar
 
Trade: General
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Naperville, IL
Posts: 16,713
Rewards Points: 1,532

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden view View Post
Sometimes too complicated is just as bad as trying to estimate by square footage.

I have 15-20 line items for kitchens and baths. Quite a few more for bigger projects.
I just can't see it. A shower alone has more than 15-20 items.

Backer material
Backer fasteners
Backer shimming materials
Backer seam material
Niche structure material
Pan material(s) - fiberglass, acrylic, tiled (Schluter, barrier free)....
Drain materials
Curb material
Knee wall caps
Glass
Field Tile
Border Tile
Thinset
Spacers
Leveling system
Waterproofing
Plumbing rough
Plumbing trim
Tile edge (bullnose, schluter....)

Then you have to calculate the surface area, number of walls, wall dimensions.

And that is just material let alone calculating labor. Every shower is different, having it's own construction nuances and installation times.

Not being that precise leads me to underbidding and praying that I break even.

The part of estimating that gets me is calculating the same things over and over with different sizes. If I can make a spreadsheet that takes that hour long process down to a few minutes, it's worth building that spreadsheet.
__________________
Tried & True on Facebook
Tried & True Website
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarpenterSFO View Post
You ask for your money frequently, and you collect it quickly, else you stop working immediately.
TNTSERVICES is offline  
Old 12-07-2015, 10:27 PM   #30
edward trowelhands
 
Golden view's Avatar
 
Trade: Diplomat
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: PDX
Posts: 3,028
Rewards Points: 3,010

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by TNTSERVICES View Post
I just can't see it. A shower alone has more than 15-20 items.

Backer material
Backer fasteners
Backer shimming materials
Seriously? You might as well have a line item for each tile. OCD can be expensive.

Kidding aside, I do probably save some line items by making things like tile and grout an allowance item. I make a guess, it's usually close, and I get reimbursed no matter what it costs. Customer is educated about how this works and how different types of layout can effect the price.

Last edited by Golden view; 12-08-2015 at 12:44 AM.
Golden view is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to Golden view For This Useful Post:
Old 12-10-2015, 11:15 AM   #31
Registered User
 
JDCOLLUM's Avatar
 
Trade: Residental
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Phoenix, OR
Posts: 3
Rewards Points: 6

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


If anyone is interested I design Program in Excel have several almost ready they will do takeoffs and estimating etc. would like some input. I'm retired Contractor may need some beta testers and some input as to exactly what your needs may be and try to fulfill them. Contact me at jcsdesignsllp@yahoo.com
JDCOLLUM is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to JDCOLLUM For This Useful Post:
Joasis (12-13-2015)
Old 12-10-2015, 12:06 PM   #32
Hair Splitter
 
TNTSERVICES's Avatar
 
Trade: General
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Naperville, IL
Posts: 16,713
Rewards Points: 1,532

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by JDCOLLUM View Post
If anyone is interested I design Program in Excel have several almost ready they will do takeoffs and estimating etc. would like some input. I'm retired Contractor may need some beta testers and some input as to exactly what your needs may be and try to fulfill them.
You really should change your account to an SP or Vendor account. I would also suggest removing your email from the post.
__________________
Tried & True on Facebook
Tried & True Website
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarpenterSFO View Post
You ask for your money frequently, and you collect it quickly, else you stop working immediately.
TNTSERVICES is offline  
Old 12-10-2015, 08:44 PM   #33
Pro
 
Tom M's Avatar
 
Trade: GC/ Interior & Exterior Remodeling
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Bergen County, NJ
Posts: 7,557
Rewards Points: 9,000

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I made one a while back that has about 30 line items from 1 being permits, 2 office, 3 site protection, demo, excavating, foundation, finish masonry, rough carpentry, finish carpentry all way down to 30 for clean up. Then I have 7 columns. Notes, task, materials, labor, sub contract,taxes, totals. My raw number tally up across, and my numbers going down the columns get tallied with a mark up. I can see it well that way.

I certainly dont always need all of these phases construction for all projects so I leave the areas blank that dont apply. I put notes and captions in the cells and I will highlight areas where I waiting on something so I remember. It works for me. I also made a pile of estimating work sheets that have numbers to match the tasks. They are organized take off sheets. I seldom use them these days though a pen and paper do the job.
Tom M is online now  
Old 12-11-2015, 03:05 AM   #34
Member
 
_xyz's Avatar
 
Trade: Renovations
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: NJ
Posts: 55
Rewards Points: 128

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Prior to getting to the point of creating your own spreadsheets, did you find any of the estimating books or software like RS Means or the craftsman books useful?
_xyz is offline  
Old 12-11-2015, 06:35 AM   #35
Pro
 
Tom M's Avatar
 
Trade: GC/ Interior & Exterior Remodeling
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Bergen County, NJ
Posts: 7,557
Rewards Points: 9,000

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


The craftsmen books and RS doest work for me, I see that as more usually in commercial doing individual phases. If I used it in residential I would be sky high.
Tom M is online now  
Old 12-11-2015, 10:53 AM   #36
Pro
 
CarpenterSFO's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: CA
Posts: 7,076
Rewards Points: 2,044

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by _xyz View Post
Prior to getting to the point of creating your own spreadsheets, did you find any of the estimating books or software like RS Means or the craftsman books useful?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom M View Post
The craftsmen books and RS doest work for me, I see that as more usually in commercial doing individual phases. If I used it in residential I would be sky high.
I'll glance at RS Means to get an idea about unit pricing, but not so often these days, as I know my own pricing pretty well.

The thing about RSMeans is that it's unit pricing. Let's say the price per foot of crown is $100. That's only potentially useful in a whole-house or multi-house project. On a small project, the variable costs are entirely outweighed by the fixed items - going to the supplier, planning, etc. I'd never make RS Means a firm basis for a quote.
__________________
- Bob
CarpenterSFO is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to CarpenterSFO For This Useful Post:
TNTSERVICES (12-11-2015)
Old 12-11-2015, 01:20 PM   #37
Registered User
 
WebCon's Avatar
 
Trade: General Contractor
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: New York
Posts: 7
Rewards Points: 20

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Here's my secret sauce though to closing more jobs... I use eSignatures to sign my quotes. I text or email the customer a link to quote and they eSign on their phone. I closed more jobs this way by being a little tech savy. I use Saydoc b/c they have a free plan.

Oh and for estimating, I use Excel so I don't make any stupid calculating errors. The rest you guys know how to do...
WebCon is offline  
Old 12-11-2015, 11:37 PM   #38
Member
 
_xyz's Avatar
 
Trade: Renovations
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: NJ
Posts: 55
Rewards Points: 128

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by CarpenterSFO View Post
I'll glance at RS Means to get an idea about unit pricing, but not so often these days, as I know my own pricing pretty well.

The thing about RSMeans is that it's unit pricing. Let's say the price per foot of crown is $100. That's only potentially useful in a whole-house or multi-house project. On a small project, the variable costs are entirely outweighed by the fixed items - going to the supplier, planning, etc. I'd never make RS Means a firm basis for a quote.
Yeah that would not help me. I'm okay at stuff like a bathroom renovation, but it's the smaller things that jam me up. My client asked me to install a set of attic stairs in the garage and to plywood the space above. As dumb as it sounds, I had no idea what to quote him. I used homewyse (cringe) and redbeacon (cringe) for a general idea and went from there.
_xyz is offline  
Old 12-12-2015, 01:52 PM   #39
Pro
 
GO Remodeling's Avatar
 
Trade: remodeling
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,523
Rewards Points: 96

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by TNTSERVICES View Post
I just can't see it. A shower alone has more than 15-20 items.

Backer material
Backer fasteners
Backer shimming materials
Backer seam material
Niche structure material
Pan material(s) - fiberglass, acrylic, tiled (Schluter, barrier free)....
Drain materials
Curb material
Knee wall caps
Glass
Field Tile
Border Tile
Thinset
Spacers
Leveling system
Waterproofing
Plumbing rough
Plumbing trim
Tile edge (bullnose, schluter....)

Then you have to calculate the surface area, number of walls, wall dimensions.

And that is just material let alone calculating labor. Every shower is different, having it's own construction nuances and installation times.

Not being that precise leads me to underbidding and praying that I break even.

The part of estimating that gets me is calculating the same things over and over with different sizes. If I can make a spreadsheet that takes that hour long process down to a few minutes, it's worth building that spreadsheet.
A lot of those items can be combined. I don't separate fasteners from backing materials. I just add a box of nails or screws to the backer price.

What throws off the tile equation is the variety of tile and design. Multiple tile pieces, picture frames, herringbone design, multiple sprayers or control valves (and appropriate hole saw), walking distance to the saw,......forget white 4 1/4" there are so many variables.

A buddy keeps asking me for a price list. Why? There isn't a big enough list to include all the different things you do in a year. Send me the drawing and sample tile. I'll bid from there.
GO Remodeling is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to GO Remodeling For This Useful Post:
TaylorMadeAB (12-12-2015)
Old 12-12-2015, 02:00 PM   #40
Pro
 
Philament's Avatar
 
Trade: Whatever the customer wants
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Ottawa, ON
Posts: 1,093
Rewards Points: 1,992

Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by olzo55 View Post
A lot of those items can be combined. I don't separate fasteners from backing materials. I just add a box of nails or screws to the backer price.

What throws off the tile equation is the variety of tile and design. Multiple tile pieces, picture frames, herringbone design, multiple sprayers or control valves (and appropriate hole saw), walking distance to the saw,......forget white 4 1/4" there are so many variables.

A buddy keeps asking me for a price list. Why? There isn't a big enough list to include all the different things you do in a year. Send me the drawing and sample tile. I'll bid from there.
Part of me agrees, but can't all of these variations just be factors (i.e. multipliers) against a base price? I believe charimon posted once that he has went all to unit pricing.

As for the detailed list, I can see how it may seem OCD, but in another sense it gives you a bill of materials so that you don't have to remember anything when you're at the store. I guess this is more of a problem for people like me who are generalists and don't have stock of all of the miscellaneous items. Helps me to be better organized, but it does cause a lot more overhead for estimates that you don't end up getting.

Advertisement

Philament is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Philament For This Useful Post:
Jonbuild (12-13-2015), TNTSERVICES (12-12-2015)


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Should general contractors do small jobs HefneS01 General Discussion 5 04-01-2015 05:40 PM
Targeting general contractors jefhet Marketing & Sales 11 03-06-2013 06:11 PM
General Contractor RME/RMO (OC) takedaily Contractor Licensing 5 09-14-2012 01:34 PM
General Contractors or Government for new work? MountainBob Business 2 01-30-2011 09:26 PM
General Contractors Don't Know There Head From There.... icntdrv Business 6 04-09-2009 08:30 AM

Join Now... It's Fast and FREE!

I am a professional contractor
I am a DIY Homeowner
Drywall Talk is for
PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTORS ONLY!

At DrywallTalk.com we cater exlusivly to professional contractors who make their living as a contractor. Knowing that many homeowners and DIYers are looking for a community to call home, we've created www.DIYChatroom.com DIY Chatroom is full of helpful advices and perfect for DIY homeowners.

Redirecing in 10 seconds
No Thanks
terms of service

Already Have an Account?