How Do YOU Estimate?

 
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Old 03-17-2004, 03:54 PM   #1
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How Do YOU Estimate?


I sat down with a friend this week and we went over his painting business from the inside out. I was surprised to see that he estimated jobs by the surface area square foot. Then added for 2 coats... difficulty.. etc..

I've always estimated by the hour, but his system seemed to work fine.

How do you estimate a job and what are the advantages and disadvantages to each system?
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Old 03-17-2004, 04:27 PM   #2
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Nathan I estimate by the hour for small jobs. I ask myself how many hours will this take to do and how many guys? I know I've never estimated painting but I think it only seems logical to estimate by the square footage. After a job or two you know how many square feet you can paint in an hour.

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Old 03-17-2004, 06:26 PM   #3
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


I do it both ways. Grumpy said it all, you know how much you can spread in an hour. Small jobs, I figure actual job costs, as in labor, materials, and tack on OH/MU. Large jobs, I look at the sq. ft., figure how long for one man to spread one gallon etc. After I figure it that way, I look back at other large jobs we've done and compare. And it depends on what mood I'm in
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Old 03-17-2004, 08:23 PM   #4
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Oh yeah I forgot about mood. That's a big factor.

Today I added $1,000 to an estimate at the very last minute because the guy made me break out my prices like a menu. I usually don't mind but it was a 3 page estimate.
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Old 03-17-2004, 10:03 PM   #5
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


i do it both ways also. small jobs tend to be hourly estimate, bigger sq ft, i use the same thing for doing acoustical ceilings, per sq foot and small jobs hourly. I agree also mood, and sometimes i will throw in a travel charge as a seperate line item.
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Old 03-18-2004, 11:01 AM   #6
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Yes travel is important if we are working miles and miles away. Typically all of our jobs are within a certain area that is minimal travel time. If I have to pay a whole crew to drive an hour there and an hour back, damned sure that's going to be part of my estimate.
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Old 03-18-2004, 03:04 PM   #7
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ProWallGuy
I do it both ways. Grumpy said it all, you know how much you can spread in an hour. Small jobs, I figure actual job costs, as in labor, materials, and tack on OH/MU. Large jobs, I look at the sq. ft., figure how long for one man to spread one gallon etc. After I figure it that way, I look back at other large jobs we've done and compare. And it depends on what mood I'm in
So you charge differently for base board and doors/windows right?

Do you have a set rate per door/window and charge by the foot for baseboard?
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Old 03-18-2004, 03:54 PM   #8
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Gah painting baseboard is a pain in the anus. I hate being on my ands and knees. LOL I still havent touched up my base board after about 10 months since I painted them originally because I don't want to get on my hands and knees. Pshhh Baseboards!
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Old 03-18-2004, 04:18 PM   #9
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Quote:
So you charge differently for base board and doors/windows right?
Yes, I have a loose formula for 'items', but those all depend on many things, such as, 1 coat same color, stain to paint 3 coats, are we painting the walls, or hanging paper against them, are they french windows, 6 panel doors or louvered bi folds, need no prep or X hours of prep? I'm pretty sure most professional estimators would outright laugh at how I arrive at a price, but I was self-taught in the bidding part, and more often than not, my prices come in right around everyone else, so I reckon I'm doing something right.

I've looked at the PDCA Estimating Manuals, and the 2004 Paint Cost Estimator books, and a bunch more, and I'm am always trying to 'upgrade' my estimating skills to be more structured, so I could use an excel program to punch in figures and spit out a price, but it seems to be so many variables that I just give up and do my thing like I always have.

I have been recently reading a book by Michael Stone called Markup and Profit for Contractors which has some pretty good info in it. But I still say, my pricing is pretty bizarre compared to most 'professional estimators'.

And God help the customer that stands me up for our first appointment
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Old 03-19-2004, 01:11 AM   #10
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Estimating is the toughest part of this business. My contracts have so many caveats that I am suprised that anyone would sign them. Kind of like the transmission guys, we won't know until we open it up.
Once behind the walls you can have damage from termites, water, rot and everthing has to be brought up to new code. Plumbing, electrics, everything.
I work on a reputation of fine workmanship, I am not cheap and I make no bones about it.
In the end, I lose my @ss once or twice a year but what I make on other jobs covers the loss plus you can write the losses off, in time. It's tough the first few years but you get better and the 'rollover' goes into effect which evens things out.
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Old 03-19-2004, 08:12 AM   #11
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


I agree Teetorbilt - estimating is something that can make you huge profits or put you into bankruptcy. It's definately not something that people take lightly. Unless you're the only one in 1000 miles that performs a certain task then the mentality has to be - "count everything once and only once". Miss something and you lose money - count too many and you lose the job (in a competitive market anyway).
If the company is well established and is working, like Teetorbilt stated, off reputation then profits can increase without losing jobs. It's definately the best situation to be in. And you have to be honest with yourself - don't say "I do the best quality work in the country" without knowing it and believing it. Look around and see what quality standards are - and compare to your quality vs cost.
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Old 03-20-2004, 04:43 AM   #12
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Back when we were contracting I always did my estimates by wall square footage and put in the trim, doors and weird stuff by the hour. It only takes a couple jobs to tell you if you need to adjust pricing or not. The benifit of sq ft pricing is you don't have the customer standing there looking at his watch if you wanna go get a coffee or scratch you ass.
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Old 03-20-2004, 08:06 AM   #13
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Quote:
The benifit of sq ft pricing is you don't have the customer standing there looking at his watch if you wanna go get a coffee or scratch you ass.
True. I never, repeat never, do T & M jobs. No way to make a good profit on these jobs, and someone is always watching to make sure every second is accounted for.
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Old 03-20-2004, 02:10 PM   #14
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Pro we do T&M and we make good profit. You have to figure your profit into each hour, plus have some kind of mobilization charge to cover overhead. In my industry roofers die for T&M contracts.
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Old 03-20-2004, 11:47 PM   #15
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


We need Harry here to discuss this topic!
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Old 03-21-2004, 08:35 AM   #16
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Speaking of Harry, anybody been considering taking his online estimating course?
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Old 03-21-2004, 10:26 AM   #17
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Harry?
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Old 03-21-2004, 01:12 PM   #18
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Harry Carter, estimating guru
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Old 03-21-2004, 01:23 PM   #19
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


For what industry?
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Old 03-21-2004, 07:53 PM   #20
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Re: How Do YOU Estimate?


Pretty sure its mainly painting. But I know his father was known throughout all the trades as the 'Godfather' of modern estimating. They used to run a school called Carter's School of Estimating. I'll check on his website, his online course might be for all trades. I know of drywall contractors that have taken it in the past. Actually, ask Nathan if its cool, I'll post his website here.

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