Estimating - Construction - Contractor Talk


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Old 10-01-2017, 07:45 AM   #1
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I find myself spending hours and clocking up miles, then writing out estimates, sometimes for people that just want a price to give to a potential home buyer - no real prospect of getting the work.
I am pretty much a one man band that chooses to remain small and specialize in deck replacements / repairs.

The thing I would most like to know from fellow contractors is:-
Why are we the only trade that doesn't charge for an assessment / diagnosis?
Mechanics, doctors and most any other profession I can think of charge something for a diagnosis.

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Old 10-01-2017, 07:54 AM   #2
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Re: Estimating

Well some of us actually do on this site & for you it is easy - do a deck safety check (see below) & evaluation & at that time you can give an approx. repair replacement cost. If they want more detailed you can come up with a design & feasibility fee
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Old 10-01-2017, 03:49 PM   #3
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Re: Estimating

If they want it free no problem I bang out some quick and fast numbers and put them in an email.

If they want me to walk the site I charge to make the trip out helps to weed out people who just want to see how I would do it so they can try it themselves.

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Old 10-01-2017, 04:03 PM   #4
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Re: Estimating

Sounds like you are being contacted by real estate agents. Find out what buyers and/or sellers have to pay for termite, chimney, radon, furnace AC, etc. inspections in your area, and mention that fee up front before you schedule a visit.
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Old 10-01-2017, 10:25 PM   #5
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Re: Estimating

I do a lot of deck repair for HOA's and individuals. For the HOA decks I charge $$ for each deck inspection and give a write up and cost for materials and labor for each deck. (127 decks).

For a homeowner it is the same process, larger fee paid when I arrive and credited to the job if they go with me.

I can justify this because I am busy and time is money. By charging them, I'm not rushing through selling a job. I'm writing up a report as to what should be done.

Most of the times I don't want to replace 127 decks, I just want the inspection fee. I have a larger company that can handle that volume.
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Old 10-02-2017, 07:28 AM   #6
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Re: Estimating

Although I'm not a contractor, I want to share my experience with you. I run a kitchen cabinets/granite/quartz business and our crew does the installation, edge treatment, and fabrication. We give out the estimates, but we don't do it in detail. I could not imagine how much time that would take. Instead, we take a look at their wishes, kitchen layout, etc, and we give out a rough, approximate estimate. If they are serious, they contact us again, and then we know what to do next.
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Old 10-06-2017, 11:22 AM   #7
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Re: Estimating

I totally agree with you and complain about the same issues only on a much bigger scale, a whole house estimate. I talked to another contractor who said he charges a fee but will credit that fee back if he gets the job and I thought that was a good solution. The negative is when you are competing with other contractors who do not charge any fee to do this work but maybe you don't want to work with that type of client anyway. Just a thought.
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Old 10-12-2017, 11:01 AM   #8
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Re: Estimating

You can qualify a lot of those tire kickers by first showing them some photos and giving them a rough cost range or budget that might be +/- 20% accurate. Then ask them if they are seriously interested in working with you on the project if you can bring it in for something close to that price.

It also never hurts to tactfully explain to them that putting together estimates and typing up proposals takes time and money which you are glad to do, but only if they are serious about doing the project.

For complex stuff, we always charge a design fee to prepare drawings and develop the scope of work so that we get commitment from them, and get paid a little something for our efforts.
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Old 11-02-2017, 07:25 PM   #9
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Re: Estimating

Gotta qualify better. Ask them some detailed questions before running to their property. If they?ve put alot of thought to the project, then they?re more likely to hire someone. And if they are tire kickers, just offer them a budget price. Get them to take the measurements you need and email some pictures. And just give them a ballpark price that you?re not obligated to. That?ll save you time and their time.


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