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Bidding Projects


Kev
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Seems to be a lot of online discussion around this topic lately.  I've always tried to be open about this topic in an effort to help others and take some of the mystery out of it.  I wanted to go ahead and create a post here for what I do to create a take off for a potential client and bid it accordingly.  I've included below my Excel sheet, a link to the website to download it yourself, as well as a link to the video where I actually go over the spreadsheet.  

Even if you're not doing a takeoff for a potential client, sometimes this is a handy tool to judge a project cost for yourself or, add a realistic value to a project you've built.

I've left the Excel sheet completely open (nothing locked) so that you can manipulate the numbers anyway you wish. Please feel free to hit me up with any questions you might have..  Keep in mind that the hourly rate in the sheet may be different for you and is changeable.  Your experience and local market will determine your hourly rate.  The number in the sheet is just an arbitrary number and should be changed to whatever your number is.

The Excel File:

Blank-Quote-Sheet..xlsx

The Video - Jump to the 23:10 mark of the video if you're only interested in the Excel sheet.

Link to the website:

https://kevswoodworks.com

I really hope this helps you guys!

 

 

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Not sure how I missed this. Very informative. As I don’t have sketchup, I did skip to the 23:10 mark after your introduction on paper. As I only build for myself, family and friends, I don’t have a labor rate but I do try and keep an accurate tab on the hours that I spend on a project. This helps me somewhat in determining how long a similar future project might take me. 

Hearing you say that you generally purchase 20% extra material makes sense and the amount of bf certainly is a consideration as well. 

Do you go as far as determining the width and length of your rough cut boards when picking them out to eliminate as much waste as possible? For example, if your legs are 16” long and you have four of them, do you buy the shortest board possible to fulfill this, if the quality of the boards are the same? Or do you just buy the bf calculated and you or the customer absorb the waste? Hope this makes sense?

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15 minutes ago, Coop said:

Not sure how I missed this. Very informative. As I don’t have sketchup, I did skip to the 23:10 mark after your introduction on paper. As I only build for myself, family and friends, I don’t have a labor rate but I do try and keep an accurate tab on the hours that I spend on a project. This helps me somewhat in determining how long a similar future project might take me. 

Hearing you say that you generally purchase 20% extra material makes sense and the amount of bf certainly is a consideration as well. 

Do you go as far as determining the width and length of your rough cut boards when picking them out to eliminate as much waste as possible? For example, if your legs are 16” long and you have four of them, do you buy the shortest board possible to fulfill this, if the quality of the boards are the same? Or do you just buy the bf calculated and you or the customer absorb the waste? Hope this makes sense?

Great question!  

It's important to know what you need when purchasing material!  Especially on a project you're charging for.  Nothing worse than multiple trips to the hardwood dealer because of poor planning!

It's nearly impossible to lay out each part when picking out material at the hardwood dealer.  I usually have particular parts in mind as I'm selecting the material to keep color and grain matching the way I want them.  This usually means that I end up buying a little more than I'm charging a client for but it usually comes out pretty close.  Ultimately, I can only charge the client for what they're getting plus the 20% to account for defects.  

I do go so far as knowing specific widths of boards that I need to get certain parts out of it but, usually buy the entire board.  For instance, the current bench build, when I bought the material for the top (7'), I was shooting for a 4" top so the boards that I selected were either 5" wide or 9" to 10" wide to reduce the amount of waste.  Even though I only needed 8' boards, my dealer carries 10' lengths so, I bought the entire board.

I hope all that makes sense.

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Gotcha! I usually spend prob more time than necessary prior going to the yard, laying out my parts on paper and decide if I need a certain amount of 4-5” wide boards as opposed to wider ones,  of a certain length, again considering the quality and checks on the ends. I have had to, unfortunately, return to the yard for additional boards after running the initial ones thru the jointer/planer and finding the grain unacceptable. But sometimes, that’s a given. 

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6 hours ago, Coop said:

Gotcha! I usually spend prob more time than necessary prior going to the yard, laying out my parts on paper and decide if I need a certain amount of 4-5” wide boards as opposed to wider ones,  of a certain length, again considering the quality and checks on the ends. I have had to, unfortunately, return to the yard for additional boards after running the initial ones thru the jointer/planer and finding the grain unacceptable. But sometimes, that’s a given. 

Absolutely!  I always have a plan when I go get lumber but, sometimes it doesn't work out..  I just don't have a lot of luxury for the length of boards..  My dealer isn't going to keep a 2' piece so that I can save a few bucks.  One of the downsides to a smaller town dealer where they're the only game in town.

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  • 2 weeks later...
4 hours ago, Bushwacked said:

curious on listing the labor costs ... do you ever get into an issue where people think its too much and you lose work? I am about to go bid a pantry remodel tomorrow and this got me thinking ... 

No.  But, my situation is also a little unique.  I don't rely on these projects to put food on my table so, I can easily decline projects where the client wants to haggle.

At the end of the day, your time has value.  It's up to you if you wish to diminish that value for a particular client.  For me, it's not an item I bargain on but, that's my situation.  You have to do what's right for you..

Do I lose work?  Absolutely, and I'm ok with that!  The world is full of penny pinchers with no clue about what we do and the value of our time.   They can choose a cheaper option that may or may not work out for them. 

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I’d be willing to bet that you could scare away 50% or more of potential customers that are Ikea and off the shelf HD minded folks just by showing them your cost plus mu of the lumber alone. If you still have their interest, throw in the cost of the finish and disposables like wear and tear of tools, glue, sandpaper, etc.. If they still haven’t turned and run, let them know what your estimated labor time will be and ask them what THEY think a fair labor rate would be. If it’s a cs answer, ask them if they would be willing to do your lawn work for that price. 

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Here is my take.  Professionals who do this daily and have hammered out all the efficiencies in the build process can charge a lower labor rate because of their process. However the converse can be true, they could charge a higher labor rate knowing it will take less time.  Plus they are probably getting better pricing on materials and some consumables.  In the end it really is how you want to work the numbers.  

Let’s call us a semi professional.  You are generally building more of a 1 off project, that means that your process will be slower, more opportunity for mistakes, higher lumber rates, and you don’t have the processes in place to increase efficiencies.  If you are fine working for no or little profit because you want to start doing more of this type of work, it may be better to get their top budget and see if you can make it work.  Use this to set up processes and build a reputation, basically marketing of yourself.  

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7 hours ago, Woodenskye (Bryan) said:

 If you are fine working for no or little profit because you want to start doing more of this type of work, it may be better to get their top budget and see if you can make it work.  Use this to set up processes and build a reputation, basically marketing of yourself.  

I've done something similar on a few projects.  When they don't like the price tag on a piece that's exactly what they want, I'll go through it with them and see where we can shave some cost.  Maybe some less expensive hardware, maybe less expensive lumber, or maybe a slightly different design to decrease the build time.  All the numbers are right there so, it's quick and easy to make a change. 

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My younger brother, who got me intrigued about woodworking years ago, is a fine example of what not to do. He is retired like myself and enjoys woodworking and is pretty good at it. He has done several pieces, mostly of oak  ( his fav, not mine) and did some cab work for a friend of his wife’s, more of a favor. Word got out amongst the women that he was good and cheap. These are folks with considerable income and are not of the Ikea mindset so, the opportunity is there. But he still works for pennies an hour, saying he enjoys what he is doing, even after building up a reputation of quality work. He doesn’t need the income which also contributes to his thought process. 
I’ve suggested to him to raise his labor rate and finished product by several, several percent. 
Having said this, if you are serious in selling yourself to a serious, perspective buyer, I think investing in some inexpensive video equipment and making a DVD of your start to finish process, edited to a reasonable length, might alert the customer that a rough sawn board does not become the piece of their choice, without some pains taking labor and knowledge. At least that’s how I would market myself. 

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7 hours ago, Coop said:

My younger brother, who got me intrigued about woodworking years ago, is a fine example of what not to do. He is retired like myself and enjoys woodworking and is pretty good at it. He has done several pieces, mostly of oak  ( his fav, not mine) and did some cab work for a friend of his wife’s, more of a favor. Word got out amongst the women that he was good and cheap. These are folks with considerable income and are not of the Ikea mindset so, the opportunity is there. But he still works for pennies an hour, saying he enjoys what he is doing, even after building up a reputation of quality work. He doesn’t need the income which also contributes to his thought process. 
I’ve suggested to him to raise his labor rate and finished product by several, several percent. 
Having said this, if you are serious in selling yourself to a serious, perspective buyer, I think investing in some inexpensive video equipment and making a DVD of your start to finish process, edited to a reasonable length, might alert the customer that a rough sawn board does not become the piece of their choice, without some pains taking labor and knowledge. At least that’s how I would market myself. 

There are a lot of people out there that simply enjoy the journey.  So, they usually only charge what it costs to move on to the next project.  Nothing wrong with that.  The downside is having to say "no" when you don't have the time or interest in building a specific project for someone.  If you don't, then you'll get run ragged trying to complete projects for people and it quickly becomes a non paying job.

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8 hours ago, Coop said:

My younger brother, who got me intrigued about woodworking years ago, is a fine example of what not to do. He is retired like myself and enjoys woodworking and is pretty good at it. He has done several pieces, mostly of oak  ( his fav, not mine) and did some cab work for a friend of his wife’s, more of a favor. Word got out amongst the women that he was good and cheap. These are folks with considerable income and are not of the Ikea mindset so, the opportunity is there. But he still works for pennies an hour, saying he enjoys what he is doing, even after building up a reputation of quality work. He doesn’t need the income which also contributes to his thought process. 
I’ve suggested to him to raise his labor rate and finished product by several, several percent. 
Having said this, if you are serious in selling yourself to a serious, perspective buyer, I think investing in some inexpensive video equipment and making a DVD of your start to finish process, edited to a reasonable length, might alert the customer that a rough sawn board does not become the piece of their choice, without some pains taking labor and knowledge. At least that’s how I would market myself. 

wait did you say DVD? :classic_blink: :classic_biggrin:

 

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