How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?

 
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Old 12-12-2015, 04:38 PM   #41
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


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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.
You still need the right ratio. A box of what count? 300? 800? A box of 800 covers 10 sheets, any more than 10 and you need another box. My spreadsheet handles the calculation for me. It determines how many I will need and then converts into how many boxes and then gives me a unit price. All I have to do is enter the size of the installation and maintain the price.

I also have included multipliers based on previous jobs and times to complete those jobs for various items. It is also based on sq feet. So if I am installing a stacked or staggered pattern with 12x12 it is a factor of 1. Diagonal is a factor of 1.5 and so on. It's a living document, but helps get things pretty dang close to my final price.

Problem is the devil is in the details and while things can be added into each other, they still need to be accounted for especially if one plans on expanding and running multiple crews.

I have some plans in the works for the next year. I would actually be interested in seeing what you think about them. Maybe we can get together in the next few weeks and I can run my idea by you and you can see if you are interested.
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Originally Posted by CarpenterSFO View Post
You ask for your money frequently, and you collect it quickly, else you stop working immediately.
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Old 12-12-2015, 04:39 PM   #42
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


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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.
My spreadsheet will eventually print out a material list.
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Originally Posted by CarpenterSFO View Post
You ask for your money frequently, and you collect it quickly, else you stop working immediately.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:01 PM   #43
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


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You still need the right ratio. A box of what count? 300? 800? A box of 800 covers 10 sheets, any more than 10 and you need another box. My spreadsheet handles the calculation for me. It determines how many I will need and then converts into how many boxes and then gives me a unit price. All I have to do is enter the size of the installation and maintain the price.



I also have included multipliers based on previous jobs and times to complete those jobs for various items. It is also based on sq feet. So if I am installing a stacked or staggered pattern with 12x12 it is a factor of 1. Diagonal is a factor of 1.5 and so on. It's a living document, but helps get things pretty dang close to my final price.



Problem is the devil is in the details and while things can be added into each other, they still need to be accounted for especially if one plans on expanding and running multiple crews.



I have some plans in the works for the next year. I would actually be interested in seeing what you think about them. Maybe we can get together in the next few weeks and I can run my idea by you and you can see if you are interested.

I'm glad to see that someone else does it this way too. That is how I have my spread sheet organized as well. 12x12 is the median, then larger or smaller tiles get a multiplier factor. Borders and features get charged by LF or SQ FT (if applicable), demo, tile backer and waterproofing are SQ FT, Schluter profiles are per unit, etc.
I still have a lot of work to do on this particular spread sheet, but it will make tile estimates go soooo much faster I think.
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Old 12-13-2015, 08:02 AM   #44
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


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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
I would be interested in a customized version, or an expandable spread sheet that when a need is seen for another line item, one can be added and not create a mess like I do every time I touch a computer.

My idea would be a sectioned excel that can sub total areas, and then compile at the end, and break out percentage costs...in a format that my client can see at a glance for budgeting.
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Old 12-13-2015, 11:00 AM   #45
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I'm not running crews but my list would be way shorter than others here.

Basically, I build my tile jobs in my head and write down my supplies during the process. When you do sqft how do you account for waste or left over material? Certainly another multiplier could do it but...

I do a lot of custom work and the variables can be numerous. Sure I have a base price for some items but the other factors are more important to me ie design, distance,homeowner/gc expectations.

As far as accounting for every screw or nail, I use the assembled product. A niche is so much. A larger niche is "x" more. A seat is so much. i try to simplify the estimating. I gave a GC a price sheet once, didn't help him. I charge by the day or half day.
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Old 12-13-2015, 11:03 AM   #46
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


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I have some plans in the works for the next year. I would actually be interested in seeing what you think about them. Maybe we can get together in the next few weeks and I can run my idea by you and you can see if you are interested.
Have your secretary PM my secretary. There better be beer or coffee involved.
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Old 12-13-2015, 02:07 PM   #47
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I did an excel document for roofs a while back. I spent a few hours on it writing all the formulas so that when I went to measure a roof I could just plug a few numbers in and it would spit out a price. The problem is staying on top of things as prices change. But for the most part it works good and unless something drastically changes and I don't change the factor in the formula it makes things quick and easy. It's especially nice for the tire kickers so I'm not wasting my time. If I think it's someone just price shopping I will plug the numbers and then give them the price. Doesn't waste my time trying to nail the bid perfect.

For a bath remodel or something I usually do it the old fashioned way. Will write down what they want when we do the walk through. Then at home will go over it and start coming up with numbers and put it all together. After doing a bunch you get pretty fast and can do them pretty easy. A bath or kitchen remodel is too customized for me to put together an excel program for it. It's easier to just do it on paper and in my head. Once in a while I will miss something but not too often and usually it's a minor thing and doesn't sting too much.
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Old 12-13-2015, 02:30 PM   #48
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


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I'm not running crews but my list would be way shorter than others here.

Basically, I build my tile jobs in my head and write down my supplies during the process. When you do sqft how do you account for waste or left over material? Certainly another multiplier could do it but...

I don't think that your process is any different. You just don't track it and have to repeat thinking through every detail every time. I am just trying to reduce the amount of redundant calculations. For the waste and left over I add a multiplier to every entry. It's just an additional step in the formula.

I do a lot of custom work and the variables can be numerous. Sure I have a base price for some items but the other factors are more important to me ie design, distance,homeowner/gc expectations.

Most, if not all of my work is custom, but there are many aspects that are the same or similar on every project. But what I think you are talking about is the "unknown" factor. I also have multipliers but it is the most difficult part of our job when calculating a price. Much of that comes from experience and gut feeling, which cannot be equated on a speadsheet no matter how many multipliers or formulas one can come up with. My goal is to reduce the amount of time I spend figuring figures I have figured time and time and time again.

As far as accounting for every screw or nail, I use the assembled product. A niche is so much. A larger niche is "x" more. A seat is so much. i try to simplify the estimating. I gave a GC a price sheet once, didn't help him. I charge by the day or half day.

That's where I want to be. But I want to know that I have everything on site ready for my crew and that there is no down time caused by a lack of inventory.

My labor is calculated in the same way, half days and full days. I think it's about the only way to really factor your time wisely. If I burn 2 hours you are getting charged for a half day. If I burn 6, it's a full day.

Part of this process is to put to rest a portion of my OCD mind and the other is to make sure that I am not losing money and am ready for the next chapter in my business.
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You ask for your money frequently, and you collect it quickly, else you stop working immediately.
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Old 12-13-2015, 04:36 PM   #49
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


A buddy is using an excel program that as you plug in the numbers, it will round up and add for casing, base, door hardware...like adding for locksets and even the door stops...plug in the window measurements and it will do the trim numbers for materials.

He has a block that allows him to ass for example a room that is say 12 by 13 feet with 1 3/0 door and 1 2-8 door like a closet. It tells you the number of perimeter feet of base, case and adds a pass lock and closet lockset, two door stops, and by clicking "crown", counts the crown molding. His program goes down a list titled room 1, add description, and dimension and openings. What we do on paper but takes all the adds out and doesn't miss hardware. Neat.
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Old 12-13-2015, 09:15 PM   #50
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


But I want to know that I have everything on site ready for my crew and that there is no down time caused by a lack of inventory




When I was doing major remodeling, my goal was to have fewer than 5 trips to the hardware store or lumberyard. A spreadsheet or list certainly helps prevent wasting time going to pickup forgotten items.

My biggest time waster now is swapping out my tools when I get work other than tile to do.
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Old 12-13-2015, 09:30 PM   #51
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Jay, adding rows is pretty simple with formulas. If you messs around with excel for an hour or so. Im no expert but highlighting and dragging highlighted boxes will often continue the method in those boxes.

I went as far as making sheets for individual tasks but found costs moved too much trust it. You get complacent and it bits you, but its a good way to get in a ballpark.
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Old 12-13-2015, 09:44 PM   #52
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


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Jay, adding rows is pretty simple with formulas. If you messs around with excel for an hour or so. Im no expert but highlighting and dragging highlighted boxes will often continue the method in those boxes.

I went as far as making sheets for individual tasks but found costs moved too much trust it. You get complacent and it bits you, but its a good way to get in a ballpark.
I figure on checking prices once a month and then when I grow a bit I will have a someone on staff check it as frequently as we need to.
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You ask for your money frequently, and you collect it quickly, else you stop working immediately.
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Old 12-14-2015, 06:26 AM   #53
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I have a basic system where spread sheet has links to the materials. I scroll down to item click the link and it loads up the current price from the Internet. That way prices are always upto date.
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Old 12-14-2015, 03:31 PM   #54
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I round up in all my estimating anyway, but it is nice to have a basis.

For example:

X number of interior doors @ $*** each. The spreadsheet would automatically add X number of pass locksets and door stops, plus 34 feet of casing, etc. My trim labor would be a different line like $1.35 per/sq/ft x the sq/ft of the interior.

Yeah Tom, I wish I had the patience for even simple spread sheet stuff.....a friend is promising to teach me the works.
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Old 12-17-2015, 06:08 PM   #55
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I'm glad some other people are talking about this. I just put together an Excel program that I'm fairly happy with. It takes into account individual trades, subcontractors, and materials. I've got it set up so that it calculates all of my markup (different for subs vs work I do vs materials) and gives me a breakdown on the cover page. My thought is that the more information I can produce, the better I can run my business in the future. As such, I've set mine up to provide:

Total estimate per trade
Total estimate per trade with markup (useful to calculate my profit margin)
Total estimate per sub
Total estimate per sub with markup
Estimated total profit

Hopefully, I'll be able to start tracking historical data and fine tune my pricing schedule. I'm just starting to play with the materials lists so I'm interested to see what other people are doing as far as auto-generating materials lists, etc.

Edit: As far as the poster who was asking about small jobs, I just do things like that T&M. Unless I can package a deal for the customer like a tile shower surround on a standard bathtub base is X dollars. I'm working on this and it will be my next adventure hopefully.
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Old 12-19-2015, 01:16 PM   #56
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Is your spreadsheet for sale? lol
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Old 12-19-2015, 01:19 PM   #57
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


MonsterCon...if you're talking about mine I'll gladly shoot you a copy. It's certainly not perfect. Always looking for constructive criticism.
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Old 12-19-2015, 01:32 PM   #58
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Yours and anyone elses, I like the control of the old school method. I just need to make it simpler.

Just email me here:
John@monstercontractor.com
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Old 12-28-2015, 09:25 PM   #59
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


If anyone is still feeling generous, then feel free to shoot me a copy of what they're using as well. Some of you guys sound like you have a nice setup going. Just PM me.
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Old 12-29-2015, 07:53 AM   #60
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


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Is your spreadsheet for sale? lol
No Right now I am just doing this as a hobby. I retired contractor and am trying to make estimating, takeoffs and job costing simple. My problem is I've tried to reply on the forum but for some reason it doesn't allow me too.

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