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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello from Charlotte, NC. I have not bid new construction in 20 years (been focusing on repaints) since a builder folded owing me almost 30 grand.

Did a repaint and met a higher end builder through homeowner and now he wants me to bid on 3 houses between 2800 and 3200 sq ft. Painted interior, 10 foot ceilings on first floor, crown in 3 rooms and chair rail in one. Exteriors are hboard siding and there are two covered porches that have to have the floors stained/sealed, interiors have 2 coats of paint with 4 colors.

His last crew did great work, but one of them got hurt and they were illegals with no insurance so he is having to deal with fallout. If I bid it like repaint it would be too high and he wants to do interior based on sq ft but says the exterior has always paid 3,500 for two coats, 3 colors.

Please advise an old dog trying to do new tricks.
 

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You got stuck before and you don't want it to happen again. Regardless of the jam this new builder is in, that's not your problem.

So, the best advice I can give (and old dog or new, there's no trickery involved), is you figure your materials, your labor, your overhead and profit. That's your bid, pure and simple.

If he wants a square foot price, divide your bid by the number of square feet. It doesn't matter what he paid to his illegals, or anyone else for that matter. There are the hard costs of your material, labor and overhead. The only variable is where you want your profit margin to be.

Figure that out, bid the job and move on if he says it's "too high."
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
"move on if he says it's "too high." "

Good advice...i looked at the house a week ago before trim was up and he said it was going to be basic. I was home for the day and decided to go back out (25 miles one way) because I had a feeling.

There is now crown in every room, including bedrooms and bathrooms on second floor, about 8" inches tall and the baseboards are almost 10". I figure at least two cases of caulking plus labor and paint just to go beyond the 'basic'.

Just got off phone and told him it would be and additional .30 per foot on top of the 1.70 I bid and he could not understand why!?!?! I do miss the smell of new construction but not that bad. Thanks for your reply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
"I wouldn't take anything he's saying about pricing into account."

Ditto on what I posted in previous response...he misled me on the trim out but I based my pricing on no crown or extensive base when I gave it to him...I see now how he operates.

It is a shame people do business like this...a couple of decades ago a handshake was good in this area with builders but it clearly has changed.

What is more confusing is that to build this house, the builder had to buy two existing houses at about 200 grand and tear them down (5 blocks from downtown char). I assume this place will sell for about .9 to 1.2 mil and he wants to beat subs up on what should be a truly first class job.

I do enjoy my work and take pride in the finished product, but if this kind of thing happens again I will have to stay with repaints. Thanks for your reply.
 

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Uninsured illegals usually means he was really focused on prices. The hit he may take in his costs for one getting hurt may change his mind on how he wants to do business.

I would bid one of them and if he came at you to hard on price remind him that your are legal to work, pay your taxes and are insured.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
update

I was told 1.80 was too high by the builder and he had someone at 1.50. After seeing the detail of the trim...crown on all floors including beds and baths...I told him in the future put me in the 2.50 range.

I did pick up a couple others in the 3,500 ballpark and both are primed and now were waiting on hardwoods to go in. I'm keeping track of every penny and second spent working on, getting product for or talking about the jobs with the owners and builder.

1.95 a heated square would be better, but we will see. Just looked at a 7,000 sq plus lake house, but I can tell this guy is a lowballer too. Already saying he wont pay the drywall guys or me extra for eggshell/satin finish on the walls...think I'll leave this to those without insurance, etc.
 

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I wouldn't even consider doing one for less than 2.50. Crown/chair/wainscott extra and priced per lf.

Let someone else go broke painting these houses, and spend your efforts in getting more repaints. One day this market will somehow get back to where a professional legit business can actually make profits and do a decent job again.
 

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Back when we were doing remodel painting for custom builders before the bottom dropped out and they were doing large scale remodels we would typically be in the $8.00 per SF range, interior only. Now it's all mostly kitchens and baths with them. Hard to imagine doing NC for those prices. I know remodel is different than NC, price wise. I know of guys around here knocking out a ton of NC and making big bucks on the volume. Things have definitely picked up in the Seattle area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
update 2 and another monster

JHC, I think your number...$2.50...is more realistic. We've started finish on first house and owner is proving to be a handful. Classic new build stuff concerning trades that I have nothing to do with but they feel I can somehow 'fix' the problems with paint. I did laugh out loud a couple of times.

Damon, I've been told by a few retired painters they were getting 5.00 and up for heated sq ft and that was about 15 years ago for 4,000 sq ft and up.

I have a new bid to get in Monday morning...this monster is 8,650 feet heated and almost 10,000 under roof that includes an INSIDE swimming pool. 1st floor has tray ceilings in almost every room. 2 rooms on 1st floor are 12' and all others (not including the 28' foyer) are 10' and 2nd level has 9' ceilings. Base is 11.5 inches tall and two piece crown everywhere with 'extreme' crown detail in master bed and master bath.
I was told the massive entry double doors cost 12 grand. A buddy is hanging the drywall and I think he said it has over 500 sheets...16,000 board feet.

The super wanted me to throw a ballpark and I started talking/thinking out loud and said 'well, we start at 2.10...' but before I could get to the add on costs for 9 paint colors and all the extras a house like this would have, he wondered if that included the exterior which has 4.5' wide super chopped boxing. I let him know that is another bid! He still wants me to work up a bid...not sure I want to waste the time. Any thoughts anyone?
 

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JHC, I think your number...$2.50...is more realistic. We've started finish on first house and owner is proving to be a handful. Classic new build stuff concerning trades that I have nothing to do with but they feel I can somehow 'fix' the problems with paint. I did laugh out loud a couple of times.

Damon, I've been told by a few retired painters they were getting 5.00 and up for heated sq ft and that was about 15 years ago for 4,000 sq ft and up.

I have a new bid to get in Monday morning...this monster is 8,650 feet heated and almost 10,000 under roof that includes an INSIDE swimming pool. 1st floor has tray ceilings in almost every room. 2 rooms on 1st floor are 12' and all others (not including the 28' foyer) are 10' and 2nd level has 9' ceilings. Base is 11.5 inches tall and two piece crown everywhere with 'extreme' crown detail in master bed and master bath.
I was told the massive entry double doors cost 12 grand. A buddy is hanging the drywall and I think he said it has over 500 sheets...16,000 board feet.

The super wanted me to throw a ballpark and I started talking/thinking out loud and said 'well, we start at 2.10...' but before I could get to the add on costs for 9 paint colors and all the extras a house like this would have, he wondered if that included the exterior which has 4.5' wide super chopped boxing. I let him know that is another bid! He still wants me to work up a bid...not sure I want to waste the time. Any thoughts anyone?
Like I said earlier bid one and submit it. What is the worse that can happen? I wouldn't play the back and forth price game, what I submitted would be that.

I have a rule never to discuss square foot pricing with any contractor. This rule is even more true when it comes to custom built homes like you are bidding.
 
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