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Discussion Starter #1
I have a past client that asked me for some help. I'm retired and moved out of the area, so I can't do the work.

Apparently they hired a GC to replace around 500 lin. ft. of railing. He gave them a rough quote for a powder coated pre fab steel railing last year. Now they are ready to go ahead with the project. The GC now tells them the quote was wrong and the railing cost is over twice as much as the original estimate. (this is where we tell the GC to take a hike right).

The GC is also telling them that all types of railings cost about the same. Of course we all know that isn't true. (once again, tell the GC to take a hike.)

I have no experience with fabricated steel railings, so I'm wondering where they fit in with the price scale of railings. My ex client used these options and was asking me to rank them with a very rough cost factor.

All wood railing with wood balusters
All wood framing with square aluminum balusters
All wood framing with cable railing infil.
Pre fabricated steel railing.

Thanks folks.
 

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John Hyatt
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Hey Mark !

With pre fab steel railing I employ two outfits.

One is really fast but the welds don't look all that great. Some Folks don't even look at things like that They just want it installed.

The other is not so fast but every weld is nice.

One is three times the cost as the other. No powder coat, they both come with a spray coat of primer / two coats of black finish. The install cost is almost nothing because they just bolt down to the decking. They both come out and measure I usually pick them up at the dock.

Cost....hummmm the fast one is around the cost of square alum / wood. The other one close to cable rail. Okie cow town is bound to be lower cost all around than Cal costs. Mark Man, you moved out to the Country !!!!!

J.
 

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General Contractor
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7,898 Posts
I agree with John, it depends who is doing the job. Also the price was given a year ago, so I can see why the guy is saying he cannot do at that price now. Material prices fluctuate especially with steel, not to mention cost of doing business is also going up, so it's pretty much the "GC is saying take a hike to the HO" not the other way around...

I was just in the same situation got a call from a HO I gave a price a year ago asking me to Honor my proposal which is originally only good for 15 days. I can't do it for the same price, so I told them I will make the adjustments and see where we at.

With that said, you retired, what you worried about it, you know better then ask prices around here or how much someone should charge :laughing: they want a rough cost factor tell them between 1,500-5000k if that helps and go back to enjoying your retirement and fogetaboutit :thumbsup:
 

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Do you mean custom welded or true pre fab? pre fab like Fortress Iron FE26 or RDI Excalibur aren't too bad cost wise. For the most basic custom welded and powder coated steel rail I pay ~ $60 LF (1/2" pickets, 1x1 top and bottom, 2x2 posts).

For fortress 8' panels the price should be ~ $120-140 for black, the 3x3 posts are around $45-$55 for black. Super easy to install, surface mount posts, mount the brackets, cut the rails, drop them in, done.

Prices don't move by DOUBLE. Not in a year. I've been paying ~ 55-65 for basic welded rail for over 10 years. Sometimes it's up, sometimes it's down.
 

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I know for me to install aluminum deck railing or standard PT railing costs about the same. The aluminum costs more up front, but the install is fast. The wooden railing is dirt cheap, but more time consuming. I'm not sure that helps you.
But double the price sounds like he made a mistake on the initial quote.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The reason that I am still involved from far away is that this past client actually just sent me a check for $ 400. It was for about a 1/2 hours worth of work we did for her 5 years ago. We were actually supposed to do this project then, but the family ran into some tough times. This lady is also one of only a handful of people that actually took the time to write reviews online, about my company.

I'm not asking for pricing, at all. Only a cost ranking. I really don't know exactly what was or was not quoted by the GC, as to the quality or type of the fabricated steel. It does make sense that quality would have a bearing on costs.

If anyone here is following the fires in No. Calif., I moved to Pioneer, CA in the Sierra Nevada Mnts., about a month ago. The Butte fire, that has currently burned over 70,000 acres and 180 homes, is about 5 miles from me. Luckily for me, it's primarily burning away from me. I was without power for 3 days and the smoke and ash is pretty bad.
 

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Talking Head
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5,388 Posts
It varies a lot with the railing layout but I'd rank them generally like this, from highest to lowest:
-Custom steel
-wood + cable
-steel kits
-wood + aluminum balusters
-wood + wood balusters


Cable rail can be really affordable if you're doing hardwood and using 40' pre-swaged kits or it can be astronomical if you're buying a lot of 5' kits and putting it all in 5" composite posts with custom color railings.

I don't know anything about custom steel as it's a no-go here. From what Robert posted it's about 20% less than composite and a lot easier to install so it sounds like a pretty good value to me. 500' is a lot of railing.
 

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Premium Member
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4,783 Posts
Seeing I'm now retired too I have no problem talking price. Like everything in construction it's cheap in Texas so might not be fair to compare to CA prices.

For the last couple of years I had been doing a lot of the prefab steel rails. Got Fortress like panels for half what Rob mentioned & sold them as a upgrade over wood/deckorater style balusters but, not much more. If your talking custom welded then powdercoated price would be way higher, prolly double.

Hope you stay safe up in those mountains.
 

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Premium Member
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Well Al, welcome to the family of old beat up retired contractors. How long have you been a member?
Not too long, since the beginning of summer. Took awhile to sink in that I'm old now, I didn't officially pull the trigger til july. Still in decent shape, decent enough I'm fixing to build another house south of here. Undecided on whether to hire a framer or try to do it myself, with some younger help of course. I haven't been paid to frame one in 25 years so..........prolly sub everything except the deck.
 

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This is the exact reason why old deck builders need crews to do the work, while the old guys sell the stuff.

I dug holes all day, will be digging when I'm 70
.

Key is finding the right guys.
I have one crew, older guys, that I would trust building the Sears Tower from toothpicks.
I make work comfortable for them, so they enjoy the work.

The younger guys are whacked out trying to deal with and discover all the new stuff affecting their new lives.
I used to do it all myself with help on jobs but then decided to expand.
Gotta manage it.
I could double my biz in 6-8 months if I could find good, solid, experienced, reliable guys.
But do I want to do what is needed..is the question. It's a strong and expensive commitment to make.

I do like your gig you have of selling, marketing, designing, etc.
You have a system you worked to build.
 

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Deck Parts Retailer
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3,108 Posts
.

Key is finding the right guys.
I have one crew, older guys, that I would trust building the Sears Tower from toothpicks.
I make work comfortable for them, so they enjoy the work.

The younger guys are whacked out trying to deal with and discover all the new stuff affecting their new lives.
I used to do it all myself with help on jobs but then decided to expand.
Gotta manage it.
I could double my biz in 6-8 months if I could find good, solid, experienced, reliable guys.
But do I want to do what is needed..is the question. It's a strong and expensive commitment to make.

I do like your gig you have of selling, marketing, designing, etc.
You have a system you worked to build.
only 31 years, And I recommend you double it while you can because the business may not be here tomorrow you have to grab it while you can
 

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General Contractor
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7,898 Posts
Nothing wrong with older guys, if they knowledgeable and experienced and as long as you wrap them in bubble wrap incase they tip over, they be OK :thumbsup:

One day we all be there so have to respect that :thumbsup:
 
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