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  • #16
    Quoting by the sq ft has been and continues to be a standard metric for some trades in home building. However, a subcontractor or trades person is free to bid the job any way they want to. Bidding is different from quoting, so I would tell a sub bid it the way you want to, count your material & labor, calculate time, costs, etc, but quote it by the sq ft. Some repetitive jobs do lend themselves to quoting by the sq ft. I know large subs who do production homes and the houses vary so little that they can actually bid and quote the job using sq ft pricing.

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    • #17
      The best way to come up with a SF price is to do a detailed take-off and estimate then divide by the area of the building.

      This is just the start though. The next step is to keep track of your time spent on the job and what you spent that time doing. this is very important because this is were you can determine what it costs YOU to trim a house as opposed to some guys on an internet forum you've never met.

      This is obviously more work than just pulling a number out of your behind but if you estimate this way you'll know your costs frontwards, backwards by the SF, unit price or lf

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      • #18
        I have always enjoyed Jerrald's posts and his examples.

        I am always reminded of how important it is to know your numbers no matter how you bid. About the only way I bid anything by the square ft is when I am painting doing drywall. I need to know how many sq ft of wall and ceiling I am supposed to paint. But for me even knowing I am going to install a certain amount of drywall I would still tweak the numbers based on things like access such as first or second or third floor, size and amount of sheets I need to bring in, how many pieces of corner beads I need, things like cutouts I need to make. Any of those kinds of things make me need to use a different sq ft price or start with a basic sq ft price and then add in the additional work.



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        • #19
          Building is bound with traditions of market, geography, and teacher-mentors.
          Speaking in $$/sqft conceals estimate detail, or lack of details, from customer.

          Drywall work, in language of fellows I work with is $$/board to hang & finish, and $$/sgft-surface for primer or textures.

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          • #20
            I've seen large specialty subs (drywall, painters, carpenters, roofers, etc) doing large jobs (houses, apartments, condos) bid by the sq ft and do it quite well. Their work is fairly standard from job to job. That's not to say that they are blindly bidding without looking at the particulars of the job. On the other hand, smaller 1-2-3 man type remodeler or trade contractors doing a broader range of work, usually smaller jobs, the sq ft method does not work as well.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by aptbldr View Post

              Drywall work, in language of fellows I work with is $$/board to hang & finish, and $$/sgft-surface for primer or textures.
              The comparison to the o/p is flawed. With cost/board you know how many boards you need. Sq/ft pricing for painting involves the area of wall space. length x height. This is also an easily known price.
              When you are talking about the sq/ft of a building you are talking about the area of floor space, If I told you I have a 1600 sq/ft house you cannot possibly tell me w/o looking at plans if I have 10 doors or 20.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Allan Edwards View Post
                That's not to say that they are blindly bidding without looking at the particulars of the job. On the other hand, smaller 1-2-3 man type remodeler or trade contractors doing a broader range of work, usually smaller jobs, the sq ft method does not work as well.
                Allan stated it better than I did. I am one of the small guys doing just about everything that I am allowed to do in this area. seldom any new work that I would have a set of prints to look at. I need to walk the house and see the one or two rooms I will be working in.
                The other thing is I will never be as fast as the guys that only hang or tape drywall 8 hours a day for 5 days a week. I will never be as fast and good as a crew that frames homes all day but I will still frame up a basement.

                I often bid the same job several different ways. I may start with a basic sq ft price for drywall or painting and then consider all the things that can make the job different from another job. I have seen a large bathroom take me most of a day to drywall simply because of all the pipes, outlets, shower niche, etc. At the same time I might be able to drywall a large basement room as fast as that bathroom. That is why I may bid it several different ways.

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                • #23
                  You'll never lose (if you estimate your time properly) by Jerrald's formula. This is not to say you can't make money and stay in business running jobs by the square, but those guys that do are very specific in their trade, have it down to a science and very efficient in what they do. They may spend more time on one job than another, but overall ( a years time) with the time saved from not doing a detailed estimate (itemizing every detail into a line item) and being efficient their is money to be made, lots of it. But even with that said, don't kid yourself that those who bid sqft are not taking into account other factors. It's just that most factors do not affect the outcome to adjust their approach.

                  Me, I'll line item (most) everything involved in the job and mark up my labor. My approach is a modified version of Jerrald's and it works well for me. Not every job I supply all materials, so I need to capture my markup via my labor. Bottom line for any business is to reach your net profit goal by years end.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by dgbldr View Post
                    Well put Wabeeman. And welcome to the forum.
                    Thank you!

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                    • #25
                      I give proposals. They can divide my proposal by their square footage if they want to.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Jerrald Hayes View Post

                        Don't do it. If a general contractor is asking you to give them a Price per Square Foot for providing finish carpentry either they are idiots and don't know what they are doing or they know exactly what they are doing and are setting you up for exploitation.

                        Tasks that are based on a Unit Cost CANNOT be estimated based on the square footage of a project. There is no correlation. For instance you can have two different 5000 sf projects where one has twice as many door as the the other, or twice as much trim to install.

                        If you look at this sketch of which one do you think costs more to execute? From a finish carpenter view point the lower plan has more trim. There is 408'-6" linear feet in Plan A and Plan B has 503'-9" linear feet. It also has more doors. Plan A may have only 8 doors where Plan B might have 13 doors. That’s a difference of 62%. And to make the trim part of this estimate even more relationally detached from any kind of Square Foot estimating technique some rooms might have built up crown and others might have no crown at all. How can a SF estimate possibly cover all those contingencies?
                        Thanks, Jerrald Hayes. this advice really helps.

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