After spending two days on an estimate that I probably won't see fruition with, and realizing that I'm doing the architech's, engineer's, and estimator's jobs (not exactly a piece of cake for me, I'm the chief, cook and the can cleaner...) I've come to the conclusion that I'm wasting a lot of time doing free estimates.
I choose to give floor plan/ electrical plan, itemized materials list, and estimates for options. Then they can't say I bid the whole job and they want 14 $3000 fixtures from my pay. The estimate only includes what I have itemized.
Even my brother-in-law (general contractor) charged $250 for the design of the deck for the recent hot tub installation I've mentioned. That was more money than the whole profit that I made on the service change and rough install for the tub.
My question: Do you guys charge for any of these services? (Electrical plan, take-offs, estimates, etc.) Assume you have nothing but your tape measurer and a piece of paper to work with (no plans at all).
( This thread was done before, but we got a lot of new members now, and I'd like some more input.)
How do the big boys do it? (The companies with well-paid in house engineers, architects and estimators) I could see an estimate costing a big company a good $1K for even a modest home. Say they only get one out of three jobs, and they've got a $3000 overhead for estimates before work starts and the labor costs pile up. Heck I'm lucky to get $2500 for the labor and total net profit from a medium sized home.
How do you all do it?
[This message has been edited by sparky66wv (edited 05-14-2001).]
-Virgil Residential/Commercial Inspector 5 Star Inspections Member IAEI
Virgil; for me it's not a yes or no answer, too many variables. If it's a GC i'm tight with fine, if it's a tire kicker i'll do very quick and generic numbers. I have more than once also detailed drawings,spec, as you have done , to find a DYI'er use such himself.
One other point, i DO NOT advertise my license # , due to the latter scenario.
If i work in Mass., i must have #'s on the truck, but not NH (i think) or VT. I must have a wallet license at all times. ( the beers on me for any AHJ who simply asks to see this..)
So, do you have a comuterized plug-it-in type of system for your bids? prices per stop? have you learned of any quick methods to expidite bids & estimates? how do you handle extra's? how about lighting, do you do the standard allowance, or do you get in depth with it?
I don't do our estimations [but I do make up proposals and invoices], however I have been the victim of many E designs, where i also feel it was done to get an idea of what the project needs, then someone else gets paid to not only install, but for my designs!!
If the project is something small [like maybe an hour of hard print drawing tops], that's not so bad when they "Use You" for free. When it comes to 3 days of AutoCAD work, several master plots, blackline sets and all that - then the client decides to be a D**K with you and bring in someone else [wants the plansets, but won't pay any cash for making them - even going so far as wanting a PE wetstampped set!], that's time to draw the line [luckilly this hasn't happened to the fullest extents].
Personally, I do a heck of a lot of free work [Pro Bono to me ] for people that usually cannot afford to have someone else do it [price and safety, plus reliability]. It ranges from Electrical work, drawings - to computer work. These are the jobs where the smile on the person's face, plus the "thank yous" and the nice dinners are worth more to me than any $$ could ever bring!!
Scott " 35 " Thompson Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!
I really have not come to terms on what works best to estimate by. I'm always amazed at people calling me for a $$$ , sight unseen, no specifics. So i tend to simply feel out what a little sticker shock will do...
And yes, i do pull my punches in certain situations. I've done i don't know how many 5 min serv calls for zip, especially for the little ol' ladies.
If you put a heading "Exclusions" in your proposal and list such unknown things as supplying fixtures to be selected by owner, those high dollar fixtures won't haunt you. If you have a suggestion for a fixture, or one is iffy, it can be listed as an adder under "Alternates" to your original bid price for the rough and hang. We usually just supply the labor to hang the fixture that the customer provides in a case like this, and pray it doesn't weigh 250 lbs. when they select it. And yes, by all means charge for your design time. If you've got to do the engineering, then it's part of the work and should not be given for free so somebody else can do the work.
[This message has been edited by electure (edited 05-14-2001).]