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Paint Jobs – How Much Does it Cost to Paint? Estimating Paint Jobs
No one wants to work for nothing, but many painting companies do when they don’t charge for all the things that go into every job. If you intend to do a full job and your client asks for a full job, you should charge for a full job. Leave something out of the budget and you’re working for nothing. Doing a full and thorough estimate involves everything that takes time, whether it’s screwing on the switch plate cover or painting the altar in that church. Many painters boast what they describe as an almost mystical experience, like walking into a room and a price comes to mind. I’ve never liked this because it’s inaccurate, lazy and likely to end badly, at best you’ll miss something and work for nothing on this part of the job. Another reason this lump sum magic is bad is that someone is always surprised when the client finds something that wasn’t done and thought was part of the job. And they tell you to do it or they don’t pay you. I talk about this when I talk about the proposal itself.
Setup: Whether it’s driving 100 miles to work or 2 days setting up scaffolding or 20 minutes unloading drops, ladders and paint, it’s part of every job. And since it’s part of the job it’s included in the cost of the job and you have to love it. You should think about special circumstances as mentioned above, or keep a percentage to use as a formula for each job. For example: if you are setting up the church steeple for scraping and painting, you need to understand everything related to this stage, including destruction. This type of setup is likely to be much more expensive than the actual paint job. Whereas painting the interior of your average clients home can be done room by room as a percentage of total hours. For example: if you are leaving a room, remove switch plates, move furniture, etc. So an easy way to do this is to take the total hours painting and multiply by 1 or 2 or whatever you think is an average time. . Estimating setup, prep, and cleanup as a percentage of average jobs saves time when estimating.
Preparation: Many times this costs much more than the paint job. For example: we painted a huge monster of a 1840’s clapboard house. 15 weeks stripping the paint before a drop of paint went on the house, the painting itself took about 3 weeks. Not only the time but lots of sanding discs, respirators, disposable overalls, daily cleaning and removing all the dust and chips was very important due to the size of the job and the old lead paint . The opposite is the average house interior which can be estimated like the example setting above using a percentage. Most of the time, interior prep is just minor surface repairs and some caulking, the things that are the same from job to job. Special repairs or problems should be detailed.
Painting: How much time does it take to paint 5 wooden casement windows at floor level without a ladder? How long does it take to paint these same 5 windows 40 feet up a hill when each window is 8 feet apart? Probably more than 2 times what it takes to paint the ones at ground level, every time you move and place the ladder on uneven ground, probably involving 2 people to move and install the ladder to in each window. So an easy formula to use at heights above 25 feet would be 2 times or 2.2 times or the time it takes to paint the same window without scale. Most of the time, estimating painting costs can be done with a formula that works pretty well from job to job.
Cleaning: This part of the paint job is likely to be hidden or overlooked from an estimating position. This is a big mistake because it can take longer than the actual painting, depending on the job. If this part of the job is not done well, the client may see the whole job as poorly done. And if it’s done really well, it might just add the finishing touch to the job. Estimating the time to properly clean up after each job is critical to your estimate. If you cut this part of the estimate short, by not allowing enough time, then something has to give and the result is probably an unhappy customer. Average jobs may use a factor to estimate time. For example, an 8-hour interior job can be cleaned in 8 hours x.1 =.8 hours.
When I see some of these “home remodeling” shows that pass the picture like it’s nothing, I laugh but then I think about how much ignorance they create. When Norm works his woodworking magic it’s an event to behold; however, when Carlos spends 3 hours vacuuming, dusting and cleaning glass after a paint job, it’s nothing, not even mentioned. Some homeowners take on painting jobs and have no idea what it really involves. Like the time we were called in to touch up walls in this multi-million dollar mcMansion after a $25,000 audio system wiring job where the technician cut holes in 11 different rooms. Each room was a different color, so we cleaned rollers, brushes, cutting buckets, etc. after each color. The owner argued a lot with me about charging him for the time to clean our tools. If it’s part of the job and you wouldn’t do it except for their job, they should pay you for it.
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