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Forum topic by harum posted 06-14-2019 02:28 AM 620 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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harum

364 posts in 2060 days


06-14-2019 02:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: pricing finish carpentry

Hello, I’m just a hobbyist with a small garage shop and still learning with every new project. Someone who had seen my finished projects has offered me to work on several small finish carpentry and woodworking projects. Semi-high end projects, like shelves in closets, a drawer chest, an isle etc. The owner is responsible for the design (like dimensions, style, hardware, etc) and selection of materials, which makes the job somewhat easier. Having never done this, my question is what should I ask for the job? Would the cost of materials times two be a reasonable charge? Or is it too much? Would appreciate any comment! Best, h.

-- "If you're not counting the ripples when throwing pebbles in the water, you're wasting your time."


22 replies so far

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

528 posts in 596 days


#1 posted 06-14-2019 03:13 AM

Materials x2 is extremely cheap. That is what mass produced stuff goes for that is made in minutes, not hours as it will probably take you.

I would start at materials x3 and see how it looks.

Don’t let that “owners design” factor in. They may tell you what they want it to look like. You still have to figure out all the “bugs”.

View harum's profile

harum

364 posts in 2060 days


#2 posted 06-14-2019 03:25 AM

Thanks for the response CWW! Yes, I expect hours of just drawing in SketchUp to figure out the joinery and exact cut list for the customer’s design. Will see what the design and materials are.

-- "If you're not counting the ripples when throwing pebbles in the water, you're wasting your time."

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CWWoodworking

528 posts in 596 days


#3 posted 06-14-2019 03:38 AM

Ok I just looked at your projects. Your work is exceptional. If that is an example of what your customer is wanting, 4x materials. Nice work.

View Ripper70's profile

Ripper70

1288 posts in 1325 days


#4 posted 06-14-2019 05:14 AM

Based on the quality of the work in your projects page, your skills exceed that of the average hobbyist. Expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of $75/hr is not unreasonable.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

View Greg66's profile

Greg66

30 posts in 74 days


#5 posted 06-14-2019 07:01 AM

Very nice work on your projects page. After seeing your work I would say double the material cost is an insult to your ability. I would suggest ignoring material cost and base your labor on the hours it will take to complete the project at the rate you want. Then add at least 20% to cover the unexpected things that always come up. Find out what others in your area get for a shop rate if you can. I don’t know what state your in but in my area everyone is swamped with work. Set your price and stick to it. Don’t be embarrassed to demand what your worth.

View WoodenDreams's profile

WoodenDreams

618 posts in 328 days


#6 posted 06-14-2019 07:39 AM

Some of the work you listed could be classified as home improvement. My son-in-law gets $75 hr + retail cost of materials for home improvements. Most of my prices are a set price, but it calculates close to this. 3 1/2 times materials for my work for larger items, with the smalls it’s 3 1/2 times materials wholesale and 7 times materials retail. My son-in-law says I don’t charge enough because of my quality and time put in. plus I do free delivery in a 50 mile radius, and I do give a 5% discount if prepaid.

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

2854 posts in 1237 days


#7 posted 06-14-2019 08:19 AM

How good are you at guestimating project time?

Then it depends on how old you are. Time is the most precious resource you have… The older you are the less you have left and your hourly rate should grow exponentially with each year you age.

I am guessing that as you are talking costs, this is not a labour of love. Set yourself a practical hourly rate based on what I consider is worthy from the above rant… at the end of the day, if you undercharge you will rue it more than loosing an expensive quote, and all that fretting will erode the time you have left.

Just my 3c worth.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View harum's profile

harum

364 posts in 2060 days


#8 posted 06-14-2019 02:41 PM

Thank you all guys for the valuable feedback on how to price your work and for the encouraging words about my little projects! More or less, I have an idea now of what to charge. x4 or $75/hr and 20% on top is not outrageously much to ask.

I went to see this rather expensive, new house still under construction yesterday and asked the owner’s assistant why not try hiring an experienced finish carpenter or contacting a local workshop. The answer was she did but the quote was way too high. Will see what my quote is when the design is finalized.

-- "If you're not counting the ripples when throwing pebbles in the water, you're wasting your time."

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

9918 posts in 1555 days


#9 posted 06-14-2019 03:57 PM

If your quote is lower than professionals, your quote is probably too low. Those guys have full shops full of industrial power tools and buy materials in bulk. In my experience, if people commission you over a pro, it’s nearly always because they simply like your work. It’s rarely because a hobbyist came in with a lower bid…

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View TungOil's profile

TungOil

1272 posts in 912 days


#10 posted 06-14-2019 04:30 PM

First ask yourself if you want to ruin a perfectly good hobby by trying to make money at it?

If the answer is still yes, then pricing can be summed up like this:

Price = what the market will bear

But, never less than:

Price = materials + labor + overhead + profit

Your work is really good. You should seek out local comps from galleries (they mark stuff up like crazy so take that into account), other local woodworkers, etc. to see what the going rate is in your market.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View pottz's profile

pottz

5539 posts in 1401 days


#11 posted 06-14-2019 05:30 PM



First ask yourself if you want to ruin a perfectly good hobby by trying to make money at it?

If the answer is still yes, then pricing can be summed up like this:

Price = what the market will bear

But, never less than:

Price = materials + labor + overhead + profit

Your work is really good. You should seek out local comps from galleries (they mark stuff up like crazy so take that into account), other local woodworkers, etc. to see what the going rate is in your market.

- TungOil


ditto thats why i rarely do work for other than family or close friends, most come to me thinking because im a hobbiest they will get a cheap price,so i just stay away from making it a business,not worth the headaches.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

5780 posts in 2137 days


#12 posted 06-14-2019 08:57 PM

Didn’t see it mentioned yet but especially when working on/in someone’s house, make sure you have yourself (medically) and your work (liability) covered and well. I sell things very rarely and only for cash and never make children’s toys, just too much that could go wrong, even though it might not be likely, it still has to be accounted for. You might want to do some sniffing around and try to get an idea of what might be a ballpark quote that the home owner received that was “too high” which in and of itself could be a warning sign but hopefully not.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12842 posts in 2797 days


#13 posted 06-14-2019 09:58 PM

If you are inexperienced it is very difficult to estimate time. One approach is to figure out how much you want per day and then estimate how many days the job will take + (materials + 20%). Forget hours. If you get done 1/2 day early, bully for you. If you finish a day late, you’ve learned something. ;)


The owner is responsible for the design (like dimensions, style, hardware, etc) and selection of materials, ...
- harum

Unless that “owner” is your mom or dad, I would be cautious. If the dimensions are wrong and you have to buy extra material to rebuild it, are they willing to pay for your time and materials? They should, but that doesn’t mean they will. The world is full of dirtbags looking to take advantage.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View TungOil's profile

TungOil

1272 posts in 912 days


#14 posted 06-14-2019 10:10 PM

I almost forgot- letting the owner or GC measure for you is a mistake you only make once. Take your own measurements. Always.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View harum's profile

harum

364 posts in 2060 days


#15 posted 06-14-2019 11:09 PM

Thank you for all the feedback—really helpful! The owner isn’t a relative or friend, more of a someone who known another someone who had seen my projects.

Yes, of course, I’m measuring everything myself on the spot and then drawing models and plans for more detailed discussion with the owner. What I’m waiting for is the style and rough design, like the number of shelves and drawers, desired heights, depths and color schemes.

-- "If you're not counting the ripples when throwing pebbles in the water, you're wasting your time."

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