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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since this topic was brought up I thought I would start a new thread and get everyones input.

When pricing small projects, you know stuff that takes less than a day, how do you price it?

I just ran into this on Saturday. I went to look at a small log handrail job and it's only 14 running feet. I usually only charge $15.00 a running foot for labor only. Which means that I should charge only $210.00. The problem is the job is 85 miles one way. Just for kicks on this job I bid it at $500.00 one day flat charge plus material. I usually like to make that, need to make that, for a full days work. I give them the price and they called today and want me to do it. So this time it worked and I think I will do it from now on.

Anyway I'm just carrying on. So what's your view?
 

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Here in Tennessee I would have taken the $210 for a days work and tacked on .40 per mile round trip to the job since it wasn't local. But hey $500 a day sounds good to me. I want to come work for you.
 

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I charge $35 per hour. That includes me driving 1.5 hours round trip to get decent lumber, he time it takes to mill it...pretty much everything. I charge the customer for the ride(s) to their house and I pay for the trip back.
Sometimes if I don't want a particular job (I do a lot of handyman type stuff also), I will price it so high, I think no one in their right mind would hire me. 9 out of 10 times I get ..."When can you start".
I never...repeat..never price any work from how well off I think someone is. If they live in a shack or a mansion, a bookcase is a bookcase and it will cost you this much.
 

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I run in to that all the time and i simply came up with a min charge to do small jobs were calculating the prices adds up to a sandwich and a cup of coffee,(i eat big sandwiches)material aside,only you can say what you need as a min to make for the day or half a day. I charge a little more extra for travel also,Its called "fuel surcharge"
 

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I have a hard time with the small projects as well. Just recently a homeowner asked if I could install twin doors on an existing cased opening and I gave her a price of 750.00(no finish work)and she agreed. I had the door co. that did the other doors make the odd size twins with a astragal,hinged and bored for the lockset.Once I got the doors all I had to do was mortise the hinges to the jamb,tweak them to line up and install door stop. This took two of my guys 2hrs and when I got to the job I invoiced her 600.00 and she looked at me like I was ripping her off(150.00 less than I said) . Have any of you run into that problem,quoting a price and when it gets done quicker than they think it should have expect a lesser bill? Anyway I got the invoice from the door co. and it was a lot less than I anticipated so I called her up and said to take another 100.00 off the bill and I still haven't recieved a check. The doors were 160.00, the guys time was 75.00 and I bought the door handle(26.00). So my profit was 240.00,what's wrong with that,so I'm a capitalist and when I get the check I'm buying a dovetail jig...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I don't see anything wrong with that at all. I've had some people comment on how fast I did something but they realize that I've got a lot of time invested in getting materials together and going and looking at the job. If I see that a customer thinks I'm making a killing then I start to go into how much time I have invested and the amount of miles that I have put on to bid the job and then to do the job.

I'm sure if you bid it too cheap you wouldn't get any sympathy from her either.
 

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yea but when she agreed ,did you have her sign a contract ?I have my customers recite the contract,then agree to the terms,ask if they have any questions,then sign.then there is no excuse not to pay,or "forget" what the estimate was,I get aleast half up front most of the time ,sometimes more,and i never take checks,i make sure my ass is covered,if a customer tries to screw me at least i don't end up buying his materials out of my pocket
 

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Time and materials

On small jobs I will quote the project and I always get at least half down. I didn't in the beginning and I got burned on some really small deals. So not I insist on a deposit. I also get paid when the customer pics up the project. Nothing leaves the shop until it's paid for. If asked I tell them my account insists on it. That usually is enough said. I've taken a lot of checks over the last three years and I've been lucky so far.

As to pricing an item I originally took the material cost and doubled it. That works for small easy to do pieces. On the more complex jobs I keep track of all the hours and figure in $25 an hour.

Where it gets difficult is when I'm building something that I havn't done before. Case in point: my current project, a 15 drawer jewelry box table. Each drawer is 17 inches long x 3 wide with 5 compartments in each drawer. The drawers are felt lined. The configuration is 3 drawers wide x 5 high. The frame is knotty pine and the legs are cedar log. This project has a lot of hurry up and wait glueing time. I'm speeding up the glue time by using Super Gel. I buy it in 50 gram bottles x 20 bottles to the case. It cuts the dry time to about 10 minutes, but it's not dead time because I've got several other projects I'm working on. So anyway, keeping track of time on this one job is a bit of a pain. So far I'm 2 1/2 days into it and I've got about 10 hours billed to it. Sometimes the best guess principle comes into play.
 

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I ran into this problem once or twice in my dirt business. People tend to get upset when you drop the original bid once the job is done because they look at it as though you were trying to rip them off with your orignal quote, instead of being pleased that you passed on the savings to them. It's weird, but that's human nature for you. I personally would be tickled to death if I got a lower price than the one quoted me. In these cases, sometimes your reputation would fair better if you stick with your original bid and if they give you more work in the future give them the break then. This way they don't tell others that you over bid or don't seem to know what you are doing because your bid was so far off. At least, that has been my experience.
 

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You take the money if it's overbid and don't feel bad,why,because if you underbid does the person ever say, "Okay,here's more money", no it's always,"Well,that's what you said it would cost so tuff luck".
By making more on jobs where you should not have equals out the ones where you had to take it. I deal with this on a weekly basis and right now I'm behind in the "process" but have a job coming up that will more than make it up. Semantics,it's all in how you look at it.
 
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