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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
thanks to all that posted on my previous thread and who responded privately.

i've completed two new construction houses (finishing a third now) and now have just received plans for an 11,000 monster. to this point they are really pleased with our work and so are the homeowners - my guys do great work.

the first house i broke even on...i did this on purpose to get foot in the door with a large custom builder. the second house i made about 1,500, the third and final house should double the second, but that is the end of my discount phase with this builder. including the monster house, i have 5 others to bid for the same company ranging from 4,000 to 7,000 sq ft.

my problem is that even while the drywall is being hung, there is still no final on trim...how tall the base is, where there will be crown, how many pieces in either, will there be chair rail, flat or panel doors, etc. it seems this is something the builder lets the homeowner decide after the walls/ceilings have been primed 'as the flow of the home' will change after drywall and prime are complete?!?!?!?! but they want my numbers before i prime.

one home had virtually no crown and no chair rail, one was loaded and the latest is somewhere in the middle. i did a very simple contract on all three that was a fixed price, but now i need to include a linear rate for the trim since it can vary and it has been so long since i did a job that way the numbers are useless. i have several programs for estimating but they are unrealistic in the real world (at least here in charlotte).

Please share with me any numbers you have for linear pricing on one, two and/or three piece crown…anything on chair rail and 6” to 13” base would be helpful as well.

of course we are buried here with illegals and i am sure the builder has several chomping at the bit for these jobs but he insists he would rather pay more for legal and insured...but not much. thank you.
 

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I don't do new construction, but I can't imagine bidding on something you don't even have the specs for. That's just crazy and the builder knows it. He wouldn't bid a custom home if he didn't know for certain what was going in that home. Unless of course, he had his numbers figured to cover all his bases, whether they were needed or not. Which it doesn't sound like, he is affording the same courtesy to you.

As for how to figure/bid your lineal pricing, just bid it like you always would. Have a price sheet covering ALL variables. Have a base line, whatever that is.... 3-1/2 base with 2-1/4 casing and 6/8 - panel doors. With 4-1/2 base add so much, 5-1/2 add so much, 2-3/4 casing add so much, 8/0 doors add, 3 piece stacked crown add.... etc.

I'm not a painter, but that's the only way I can see that makes sense. Otherwise, your bidding blind, with the illegals club being held over your head to beat you down should you even consider .... **GASP**.... that you might like to actually make any money.

I'd have a come to Jesus meeting with the builder to see just where things are. You may find that he doesn't even realize the position he's putting you in when wanting a firm bid before the HO even picks out doors and trim. Although, I rather doubt it.
 

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I agree with John. You need to figure lineal pricing for everything. On custom houses I would bid out the wall, ceiling areas and give him pricing for everything else.

This way when he is bidding he can simply put your numbers in with his takeoffs and get pricing.

There won't be much difference between standard base, or casing sizes. Maybe ten cents per foot or so.

Do you have specs for paint? Is the millwork bare? Are the trim carpenters competent? How much prep work will be involved?

Hard to give you a price to start at without knowing things like that. You also have to factor in your crews production rates. My crew could be faster or slower than yours.
 

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Jaws said:
Dont discount your work to get in the door. All that will happen is you will get to do three jobs for chump change and then get shown the door. Bid to make money.
There's builders around here with that reputation, and that's where they make their money I think, or at least how they have such low prices. Get a new guy in at a low price, and before the new guy's even done 2 jobs for him, he's already courting 2-3 other subs trying to get cheaper prices. Then when the first subs try to raise prices, the builder's already moved on to the next cheaper sub who is trying to get his foot in the door.
 

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That builder is going to expect you to do it cheap like the first two jobs. The painter is usually low on the food chain for a builder. If you want some respect and money, do residential repaint work. I did the new construction/ builder thing back in the 80's, so I've been there.
 

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Yeah sounds like he's playing you. You have to be able to know what you're bidding on before giving a price. Working to break even is losing money. And what if something goes south? Then you're paying to do his job. No thanks. Better to stay home than lose money. Charge what you're worth.
 

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Yeah sounds like he's playing you. You have to be able to know what you're bidding on before giving a price. Working to break even is losing money. And what if something goes south? Then you're paying to do his job. No thanks. Better to stay home than lose money. Charge what you're worth.
I agree. Charge a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Do you have specs for paint? Is the millwork bare? Are the trim carpenters competent? How much prep work will be involved?

Hard to give you a price to start at without knowing things like that. You also have to factor in your crews production rates. My crew could be faster or slower than yours.
I bid a total of 3 coats (one prime before trim and two finish) and I give an allowance of 23 bucks a gallon for finish paint. As with all good painters, we can make anything look good with two coats and will use whatever they want...as long as we are not held responsible for cheap/bad paints down the road. About 15% of the wood trim is bare primarily around the windows and the trim guys are pretty good so far and they fill any large cracks/corners in crown, etc. with wood putty and sand down before we start. No flooring should be down except hardwood and my contract states that if tile is in place the sub that installed is responsible to cover it to protect against paint and chipping...one house we covered and then charged the builder and by the second house the builder kept him out! :)

My crew is really good (I am lucky and blessed) and one guy is as fast/good as I am and he is paid very well. I still enjoy the craft and am on the job working with the crew about 90% of the time...one new guy said he hasn't seen an owner roll walls all day like I do before (of course he's just trying to suck up).

The super left a message for me yesterday and wanted to make sure I bid the exterior as well…I am sure he is trying to compare the bids...up till now they have not wanted that number up front and I have to go back to the monster today to look at it more closely...pretty sure I will have to rent a lift for the back of the house that overlooks the golf course since it is a 4 floor house.

Thank you for your time and I appreciate your response/advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
thanks and one more question

Thanks to everyone for your replies. If this ends up being the old 'burn and turn' routine it will be okay. It has been fun doing new construction for a change and we have pulled a couple repaints from neighbors of the houses we are/have done.

I have bid two other houses for two other builders in the same sub division and went kinda high (no more cheapies from me!) so I should hear back from them in a week or two.

There is one question I haven't asked and don't want to blow up the boards with another thread but wanted to ask how you all break down your draws. Years ago the standard for painting in this area was 45%, 45% and then 10% after touch up. This builder I’ve done these projects for is going 40/40/20 and I would rather not have that much hanging out there...please let me know how the breakdown is for you...thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
the illegals club being held over your head to beat you down should you even consider .... **GASP**.... that you might like to actually make any money.
HA! I agree...it seems the game hasn't changed...he does seem worried I might make a profit! At least with existing homes the owners know that I do the work to make money and not just get a day long workout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
didnt realize...

i didnt realize until i spun around the treads on this site and a couple others that talking about specific pricing was frowned upon...sorry if anyone was offended.

i didnt expect a numbers reply from anyone in my immediate area for the obvious reasons but thought input from other areas would help.

btw, the best paying place i've ever painted was palos verdes in good ole cali...made mad money out there a couple decades ago. i miss the in n out something awful.

so, at the risk of offending anyone i though i would share what is happening with the monster. the builder said if i matched pedros price (his real name...i saw the business card!!!) he would give me the work. after adding some dollars for being legit and for a higher grade of paint, we are in the 53 grand range. i still think this is low considering i will have to scaffold in three different areas, 60 footer may not reach the rear boxing and the built ins are insane... i should know if he takes it or not.

i am so tired of stressing about it at this point it doesnt matter much!?!?! thanks for the private email and for posting.
 

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NCPainter said:
i didnt realize until i spun around the treads on this site and a couple others that talking about specific pricing was frowned upon...sorry if anyone was offended. i didnt expect a numbers reply from anyone in my immediate area for the obvious reasons but thought input from other areas would help. btw, the best paying place i've ever painted was palos verdes in good ole cali...made mad money out there a couple decades ago. i miss the in n out something awful. so, at the risk of offending anyone i though i would share what is happening with the monster. the builder said if i matched pedros price (his real name...i saw the business card!!!) he would give me the work. after adding some dollars for being legit and for a higher grade of paint, we are in the 53 grand range. i still think this is low considering i will have to scaffold in three different areas, 60 footer may not reach the rear boxing and the built ins are insane... i should know if he takes it or not. i am so tired of stressing about it at this point it doesnt matter much!?!?! thanks for the private email and for posting.
Good luck NC! I hope you survive and thrive! That's a big elephant to eat.
 

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Not to insult anyone but I sometimes find it strange that after many years in a trade people still dont know how to bid. I started my buisiness in 97'. I made a lot of bidding mistakes the first year. I did the whole bid cheap to get the needed job thing too, but its never worth it. I learned quick because I was broke!

After a few years you should know how long something is going to take you, and what your company needs to make.

I never lower my prices, ever. I charge what I charge, take it or leave it. Just because someone wants it cheaper I should bid lower? Wonder if that would work at walmart? Course not!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Good luck NC! I hope you survive and thrive! That's a big elephant to eat.
Thanks! Been at war with cancer for about 6 years (when diagnosed at first they told me I had 3 months to live...I showed them) but the stress from this project has been out of hand and caused me more sleep than preparing for the trip to the great beyond. The builder came back saying he would pay 48,500 and that was all since pedro lowered his price but in the period between my bid last week and yesterday I was able to meet with a couple of other subs to get details that weren't on the prints. Stained glass everywhere, almost 20 sets of doors have glass/french in them, no carpet anywhere (4 sets of stairs and rails to be stained and risers painted) THREE tones of paint on the crown which is in every room including walk in closets plus more. I took the opportunity to officially decline meeting the lower price to get the H*** away from this one. I sent and email and left a voice mail letting him know and thanking him for the ultimatum so I could run!
 
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